This post provides additional support that my project proposal will be successful at Unitus, and can be impactful for other credit unions within our industry.
There are currently several examples of credit unions offering some kind of rewards program for their members. However, two credit unions reinforce the credit union difference in a similar way to what I have proposed, and stand out as glowing examples in our industry.
Ent Credit Union created Ent Extrasin 2014 as a way for members to earn annual cash rewards via engagement with their organization. They currently offer cash rewards ranging from $10 for an activated debit card to $75 for obtaining a mortgage loan with Ent. In December of 2017 Ent announced they deposited $9.5 million in cash rewards to their members savings accounts. Chad Graves, Ent’s CEO describes the program: “We realize that when a member chooses us for a product or service, they are choosing to support Ent’s continued financial success.”
Rogue Credit Union established Rogue Rewardsin 2016 with a similar vision. They too built their member rewards program to incentivize members who participate with their organization. Their cash rewards range from a basic $5 reward for enrolling in eStatements to allowing members to roll their interest from other Rogue accounts into their ownership account. They also appear to do a great job reinforcing the ownership difference.
Both Ent and Rogue have experienced admirable growth over the last several years. Below is their member growth over the last 10 years compared to our (Unitus) OR/WA credit union peer group. I believe the rewards programs these credit unions have in place are a factor in this growth. Rogue’s 2012-2013 growth is mostly attributed to an acquisition, but that does not take away from their amazing organic growth story over this ten-year period.
Rogue sustaining member growth over double digits, and Ent growing above 5% as a $5+ billion credit union is remarkable. But, is it financially sound and sustainable? As I mentioned, in 2017 Rogue paid out $2.5 million in rewards to their members and Ent paid $9.5 million. You would think that would come at the expense of Return on Assets (ROA). However, as you will see below, the ROA trend for both credit unions is just the opposite of what you might expect. Both Rogue and Ent are sustaining over 1.00% ROA. They are striking a great balance between rewarding their members and ensuring financial stability for the organization in the future.
I am not suggesting a rewards program is a silver bullet to double-digit member growth and above 1.00% ROA. I am certain these organizations focus on many other aspects of their organization. However, I think it is a smart strategy and an important tool that contributes to their success.
As I have outlined in prior posts and my application video, my project proposal takes a similar approach to rewarding the member. We will reinforce the credit union difference, and drive member behavior, but it will be designed in a Unitus way. The behaviors we reward, the way we communicate to our members and our community, and the specific program we create will be unique to Unitus. This is a large-scale project requiring significant organizational buy-in in order to get it on the project roadmap. The proposal process has been going great within my organization and I am optimistic we will be able to bring this to life at Unitus.