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Shared Branch Network Grows, Helps Retain Members

Study after study has shown that consumers still want branches. Most recently, the 2015 Consumer Banking Insights Study found that 88% of millennials prefer to do at least some transactions in person rather than over the phone, online or via mobile app.

That means it’s still important to have a brick-and-mortar presence—or better yet, multiple locations. Shared branching makes it possible for credit unions to offer in-branch services to their members nationwide. And that network grows every day.

“For all the advantages enjoyed by banks, shared branching is the one channel no bank will ever have,” says Sarah Canepa Bang, President and Chief Operating Officer, FSCC, LLC, and Chief Strategy Officer, CO-OP Shared Branch. “It is the tangible demonstration of credit unions’ willingness to work together on behalf of all members.”

In June, CO-OP Shared Branch became the nation’s third largest network of financial institution branches. It surpassed Bank of America with 5,300 credit union branches and 1,800 self-service kiosks. This is also true on a local level. The Missouri Credit Union Shared Branch Network (CUSB) recently overtook Commerce Bank as the third largest network of financial institution branches in Missouri. The CUSB Network has 126 branches in Missouri and a total of 150 when you include branches located in Illinois, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. The CUSB Network has a total of 53 participating credit unions.

“By the end of 2015 we will have added 23 new branches and seven new credit unions to the Missouri Credit Union Shared Branch Network,” says Mark Hohenstein, Vice President of CUSB Network. “It’s been a great year for growth.”

The shared branching concept not only increases the reach and convenience of participating credit unions, it also helps them meet many of their business challenges.

“The branch isn’t entering an end cycle; rather it is evolving with more of a concentration on sales than service,” says Canepa Bang. “As technologies such as mobile and mobile remote deposit capture contribute to the decline of basic branch transactions, the value of the branch channel remains significant. In fact, shared branching is becoming more important than ever. As the number of individual credit union branches decrease, the nationwide network of shared branch locations will enable credit unions to maintain their community presence.”

Canepa Bang explained that for credit unions reticent to close branches, opening their existing branches to shared branching is a way to bring in income and transactions. Shared branching can also solve any issues that may arise from credit unions closing branches. Joining the shared branch network aids in retaining members in those communities.

For example, BluCurrent Credit Union had to make the difficult decision to close its Joplin branch in 2013. However, shared branching ensured that members living in Joplin still had the option to complete in-branch transactions. 

"Shared branching was and is a vital component in providing continued service to our members in the Joplin market," says Derek Williams, Chief Operations Officer for BluCurrent. "While we offer online and mobile banking, our next closest branch was more than an hour drive away. Shared branching and the CO-OP ATM network provided us the opportunity to retain members and to continue to provide a multitude of convenient service delivery options."

Questions? Interested in joining the shared branch network? Contact Mark Hohenstein via email or phone, 800.392.3074, ext. 1328.

Sources include this CO-OP whitepaper and this Financial Brand article