Re-branding was a trend this past year as credit union executives actively
pursued market repositioning strategies. The year 2003 saw many credit unions actively
modifying their charters beyond their traditional employer-based memberships.
For example, United Airlines Employees Credit Union ($4.5 billion, IL), which
was historically tied to its sponsor, expanded to other groups surrounding its
airport locations. United has since been able to provide its old and new members
access to over 17,000 credit union-owned ATMs across North America by joining
the CO-OP Network.
Additionally, over 65 credit unions over $50 million in assets took the risk
of changing their name and consequently, the face they’re putting forth to existing
and potential credit union members. The biggest credit union that adopted a new
name was $1.67 billion Dearborn CU, who made the switch to DFCU Financial FCU
(MI). Other credit unions that changed their name in order to enhance their branding
– or reflect their wider field of membership – were Austin Metropolitan Financial
(TX), which made the switch to Velocity Credit Union ($316 million), IBM Mid America
Employees (MN) , now known as Think FCU ($1.1 billion), Detroit Federal Employees
(MI), now known as Peoples Trust ($140 million), and FSH Employees (FL), now
Focus CU ($80 million).
In addition to becoming more “open” organizations, charter conversions have
been a continuing response to market threats and opportunities. In Utah, almost
all of the large state charters converted to federal charters. This even included
billion dollar credit unions America First and Mountain America.
To get additional information on charter conversions and total membership and
keep up-to-date on credit union name changes, visit Callahan’s Directory Online
or consult Callahan’s 2004 Credit Union Directory.