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VOL. 130 | NO. 135 | Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Credit Unions See Fertile Ground in Memphis

By Andy Meek

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In one sense, the newly opened credit union branch across the street from East High School reflects a company adjusting its Memphis footprint.

But InTouch Credit Union’s relocation from 5100 Poplar Ave. to 3245 Poplar Ave. also brings some extra touches, like a drive-thru teller window and an ATM. And while it’s not an expansion, its opening comes at a time when local credit union officials say customer interest in their offerings is high, with membership rolls that keep getting longer.

InTouch – which has branches in Texas, Michigan, Nevada and Virginia, in addition to the Memphis branch – has assets of $800 million and serves more than 85,000 members across all 50 states and in several countries around the world. It merged last year with Hospitality Federal Credit Union of Memphis.

Hospitality Federal Credit Union got its start in Memphis in 1960 serving employees of Holiday Inn and later Hilton Worldwide, IHG PLC, Caesars Entertainment Corp. and the employees and families of the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association.

“Our analysis of the market, and where InTouch Credit Union could make the most impact helping the citizens of Memphis, supported the decision to move the branch from its longstanding location to the new location,” InTouch president and CEO Kent Lugrand told The Daily News. “We believe the new location will provide the best opportunity for InTouch Credit Union to help our members in metropolitan Memphis.”

Among the ways it will do that, he said, is by offering new conveniences, like the drive-through and ATM service.

The new branch opened for business June 30. It also represents another entry point to bring customers into the credit union sphere, with officials noting that one of the effects of the economic turmoil in recent years is less loyalty to traditional banks.

And that, said First South Financial senior vice president of marketing Delynn Byars, translates into more of a willingness to jettison a bank relationship now than might have existed before. It’s a perfect opportunity for an institution like First South, which currently has about 50,000 members.

“What I can tell you is driving that growth is word of mouth – member referrals,” she said. “We offer great service and great pricing, and our members are great brand advocates for us. They are tired of bad service and high fees.”

She said First South puts an emphasis on unbanked and underbanked consumers, making them aware of the credit union’s services and that their credit history isn’t a barrier to account ownership.

The story at Orion Federal Credit Union is similar. With more than 60,000 members and growing, Orion is drawing new accounts for many of the same reasons.

Orion market specialist Lee Ferguson said new members tend to mention things like low interest rates on loans and high yields on deposits, as well as the credit union’s community involvement, when setting up new accounts.

“They recognize our commitment to the community through our sponsorships, our charitable giving, our support of events and organizations that help make Memphis a better home for all of us – and that factors into their choice,” Ferguson said.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 64 87 1,429
MORTGAGES 39 60 1,107
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 14 204
BUILDING PERMITS 92 209 3,265
BANKRUPTCIES 42 84 837
BUSINESS LICENSES 21 23 352
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0