Cementing Partnership through our Passion to Serve

Credit Unions partnering with Universities and colleges seems to be a growing strategy and a direction that has been proven worthy. The question is, do we truly understand the value that could be triggered from the efforts to create a partnership as immense as this? I am not sure we do. Like many Credit Unions, Commonwealth CU, is attempting to generate memberships within the youth of our communities through incentivized campaigns. High School workshops, Financial Literacy programs, as well as product specials structured to our youth are the foundation of this effort. All of the above have proven to be valued strategies, to a certain degree. The concern is, when these individuals finally graduate from high school and head off to college to become young adults, are we truly being considered as their go-to resource in a world structured around convenience and accessibility? More importantly, are we truly present to accurately guide and educate them? I'm not certain that we are.

What we do know is that when these young individuals arrive at college a new chapter in their life begins. Where they truly learn to grow.  Where finances begin to take on a new meaning by encouraging, and most certainly, discouraging their purchases. The partnership allows for us to have an evident presence on campus. Giving us the ability to be considered as a trusted option for faculty & staff, students and alumni’s financial needs. Having an existence on campus is crucial in guiding these individuals in the right direction in making educated decisions and developing lifelong advocacy.

The chance to be a viable resource for 2-3k new students a year provides a large opening for opportunity. Partnering with a local College or University allows us to play a pivotal role in the lives of these young individuals. Yes, it’s understood that not all Credit Unions have the resources, nor the charter, to allow for them to go out and partner with a University or College. However, we need to seek out fortuity by driving ourselves in the direction of generating a higher presence on campuses. It is here that we become a solid aid to the next wave of youth to come through not only our doors, but the doors of our communities.

To chart our progress within the walls of the University, we created a tracking program to break down the numbers on the majority of our traffic. When a new membership comes through, the Financial Service Rep has 3 fields (alumni, students, faculty & staff) to decipher from for our strategic groups. Through this tool, we can see which avenues prove to be worth our effort as we continually grow in the partnership. As we attend, volunteer, sponsor and host each event that we can, tracking our visits through a program called Synapsys allows us to document each strategic effort performed. Trial and error is the one thing that was certain going into this partnership and it will continue to be what defines us as we proceed forward.

In our first year as the University of Louisville preferred Credit Union, we failed on many occasions to generate memberships and trust. However, over the last 12 months, we’ve grown and continue to adjust in order to become acclimated as the new partner to the University. We are seeing dramatic growth in the number of memberships coming to us now through our partnership. After all, a calculated effort is only as good as the service we provide when faced with the opportunity to go above and beyond for the member, and the University. Members are perceptive and they pay close attention to service levels. They can tell the difference between a superficial attempt to gain their business and a genuine commitment to partner with them in their financial lives. At Commonwealth CU, we’ve never shied away from opportunities to be recognized, even when we landed face first in our attempts.

Truth is, it takes time to establish your reputation. Whether it be in a small town, community or a large city, trust is still the core value that we must seek. The glory of being fostered in on the grounds of a college campus is the momentum generated through word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth that comes from what we all believe in, “bettering lives through our passion to serve”. Passionately serving our members is a practice that should be carried out daily in the Credit Union industry, regardless of the name on the building.

Raffo Wimsett