California Cooperatives Both Get A Win From Shared-Branch Arrangement

A pair of Sacramento-area credit unions have embarked on a relatively unique partnership, sharing a single facility to serve their respective memberships.

 
 

While shared branching and cooperation among credit unions is nothing new to the industry, a recent partnership between two neighboring California credit unions showcases a relatively rare sort of collaboration. Two credit unions are sharing a single branch, with separate teller windows and separate employees, serving a single community.

“It’s usually the bigger credit unions helping out the little guy, but in our case it’s the other way around,” says Carol Hauck, CEO of First U.S. Community Credit Union ($535.8M, Sacramento, CA). First U.S. Community has five locations, but Hauck had seen member surveys in recent years requesting a branch in the nearby suburb of Roseville. Unsure that building a new facility in a new community would be fiscally wise, Hauck reached out to the smaller California Community Credit Union ($82M, Sacramento, CA), which also has a small branch network in and around the capital city.

CU QUICK FACTS

First U.S. Community Credit Union
Data as of 06.30.22

HQ: Sacramento, CA
ASSETS: : $535.8M
MEMBERS: 27,121
BRANCHES: 5
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 7.95%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 9%
ROA: 0.73%

Hauck called California Community’s then-CEO Elena de Anda, who agreed to open the doors of their Roseville Branch to the members of First US. But there was a catch – during the initial conversation, de Anda revealed that she would soon be retiring, and wasn’t sure how the new CEO would feel about the partnership. However, when new CEO Marcy Cole-King took the helm at the start of this year, it became immediately clear that she was on board, ensuring that the launch happened on May 1, as planned.

California Community’s Roseville location was built with four teller stations, but staff were no longer using all four simultaneously. That’s in line with industrywide slowdowns in branch utilization and teller-transaction trends over the last decade.

The deal required little due diligence early in the process. As the two sides worked out details it became apparent the partnership would be a win-win for both institutions. First U.S. gained a low-risk new branch in a key location that members have been requesting for several years. And not only is California Community getting additional branch traffic, but the agreement between the two parties gives the smaller institution an additional non-interest income stream, since First U.S. Community pays a monthly fee for rent, utilities, and office supplies.

“We’re always looking for ways to do things affordably and ways to better serve our members,” says Hauck, “so this was a great way for us to expand.”

CU QUICK FACTS

California Community Credit Union
Data as of 06.30.22

HQ: Sacramento, CA
ASSETS: $82.0M
MEMBERS: 4,376
BRANCHES: 3
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 6.65%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: -10.36%
ROA: 0.07%

As of May 1, both credit unions are operating two separate teller counters, along with an MSR desk for lending and account opening. Similar to rules in traditional shared-branch networks, both have agreed to not try to poach the other’s members. Signage outside the building directs members to the relevant branch. “Inside we both have signage at each window that helps each member know where to go,” adds Hauck. “It’s working very well.”

The exterior of California Community and First U.S. Community Credit Unions’ shared branch in Roseville, CA.

With separate tellers, First U.S. Community had to run wiring and servers to connect to its core system. Management also had to adjust operating hours for the new location, conforming to California Community’s 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. schedule.

The deal has also been a boon for community members who do their banking at other credit unions. While California Community doesn’t participate in a shared branching network, First U.S. Community does, meaning the joint Roseville branch provides an additional access point for members of other credit unions.