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The Differences Between Credit Unions and Banks

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What exactly is the credit union experience? The following editorial was written by Truliant Chief Operating Officer Todd Hall for the Summer edition of our TruInsight quarterly newsletter.

Banks and credit unions are two very different animals.

Coming to Truliant Federal Credit Union with a business perspective shaped by two decades at regional and community banks, the significant differences in how each approaches service have become far more evident. Too few people truly understand these differences and the quality level of services and benefits we provide.

Now two years into my role as chief operating officer at Truliant, long enough to be firmly entrenched into a new life outside banks, the most noticeable difference is that credit unions put members first in a way banks cannot. There are some good banks that care about their customers, but an emphasis on quarterly earnings and delivering value to shareholders seeking higher returns often clouds their ability to have a crystal clear focus.

A bank’s decisions are often made for the sake of earnings at the cost of understanding needs and extending exceptional service. The retail culture for most banks is to sell their customers as many of their products as possible, believing that the more each customer has, the less likely they will be to leave for other financial institutions.

These behaviors result in a person’s time with bank employees being spent on the sales pitch for a number of preapproved products: credit cards and lines of credit ring a bell? This doesn’t translate into the personal attention at the heart of Truliant’s mission to listen, understand your wants and needs and to work together in reaching your financial goals. Financial institutions exist because your money is personal and there’s a certain level of trust you expect from them. At Truliant we work at earning your trust by always having your best interests at heart.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 and the consolidation of the biggest banks into even bigger entities, their focus became more cumbersome, widespread and financially oriented. This created a disconnect with the people waiting patiently – and sometimes nervously – in the lobby, expecting an experience that takes time, energy and guidance.

They might be buying a first home, land that’s been in their family for decades or getting ready to send their firstborn off to college. They don’t want to be pushed into a complicated new loan product by a worried employee burdened by a weekly sales quota set in some faraway office to meet an earnings target.

You want your financial institution to help you sleep better at night. As a member, you are an owner of Truliant, our shareholder. We believe you deserve careful personal attention, and we understand that you want your money to work harder for you; to earn more, to pay less fees and interest, and to help you reach your goals and make your dreams happen. This requires personal attention from an attentive representative that not only understands you, but can empathize with your situation.

Rather than pushing products or seeking additional fee income to boost balance sheet earnings, as most of the banks do, your needs drive Truliant’s business model. Our job is to improve your life and we take this seriously. We do this with your best interest at heart. This is our brand and our competitive advantage.

We look forward to working with you to help you improve your life.

LEFT: Truliant Chief Operating Officer Todd Hall speaks on the benefits of credit union membership at a brick breaking for our new Member Financial Center in Mint Hill, N.C., set to open this fall.

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