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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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North Island, Cal Coast Credit Unions Branching Out

FINANCE: Opening New Brick-and-Mortar Locations

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Local credit unions are not shying away from opening new branches, part of a nationwide trend of the member-owned not-for-profit cooperative financial institutions expanding their presence in the brick-and-mortar world.
Despite a large number of credit union members opting for online platforms for their transactions, and using apps to access financial services and information, the number of credit union branches is growing.

Robert O’Grady
COO
California Credit Union

“We find that people like to deal with people when they’re making financial decisions,” said Robert O’Grady, Executive Vice President and COO at California Credit Union. “We see that people of all ages are still coming into the branches to make those decisions… things like our wealth management services, car loans and for sure mortgages, they like to speak to mortgage loan officers directly.”

According to data from the National Credit Union Association, the number of federally insured credit union branches grew by 50 last year, even as more than 1,000 traditional bank branches closed in the United States in 2023.

Currently, about 4,800 credit unions count 135 million customers as part of nearly 21,000 branches in the U.S.

Locally, North Island Credit Union earlier this month opened a spot in Escondido, its 26th in the Southern California region and 11th in San Diego County.
North Island Credit Union is a division of California Credit Union, which was founded in 1933 with assets of nearly $5 billion, serving about 200,000 members. NICU operates in San Diego and Riverside counties.

NICU’s new full-service retail branch at 1230 Auto Park Way in the Escondido Promenade Shopping Center features free WiFi and of its nearly 4,000 square feet, 1,700 SF of it is a community room for groups to hold events and meetings at no charge.

O’Grady said the Escondido spot was needed to serve about 8,000 people in the Escondido/San Marcos region who previously had to travel to either Scripps Ranch or Mira Mesa for in-person assistance at a branch.

“We’re always listening to our members because our members give us a lot of feedback,” O’Grady said. “We also analyze our membership and identify where concentration of members are. We’ve been doing market surveys and trying to find the best location for a number of months and we found kind of the best location in north Escondido, close to (Interstate) 15, a high-traffic area with great parking, which our members really enjoy.”

O’Grady said NICU has added about 250 new memberships since Feb. 1. He said of North Island Credit Union’s new members, 20% are originated online; 80% are originated in-branch.

He said NICU is always evaluating opportunities for new branches and is currently looking at “a number of locations,” but the organization is not making any announcements.

Cal Coast Gets Innovative

California Coast Credit Union is opening two new sites in the coming months to offer better in-person access for its nearly 200,000 members.

“Pre-COVID, our branch strategy was to open a new brick and mortar physical branch on an annual basis,” said Cal Coast president and CEO Todd Lane. “And of course COVID really put the brakes on that. But post-COVID, we are moving back in in that direction, and we have two planned for this year.”

Todd Lane
President and CEO
California Coast Credit Union

With an opening ETA of September or October, Cal Coast will open a 3,700-square foot “innovation branch.” Innovation branches typically cost twice the price of a traditional credit union ($2 million vs. $1 million), Lane said.

Cal Coast Credit union has more than $3.6 billion in assets, and like NICU, has members in San Diego and Riverside counties.

The new spot will open in a vacant suite in Cal Coast’s headquarters on Spectrum Center Boulevard in Kearny Mesa and will include Interactive Teller Machines or ITMs – innovative machines that combine the functionality of an Automatic Teller Machine with the comforts of a human vibe.

“At the innovation branch, there are going to be people there but it’s not going be a traditional branch,” Lane said. “There’s no teller line, no tellers. There are going to be credit union agents helping members use technology to perform their transactions and the ITMs that can do many, many more transactions.

“ITMs act like a self-service sort of kiosk. But we’re going to have people there helping members become familiar with this technology and these machines that do their transactions. And of course we’ll have people there for other things that don’t require an ITM or an ATM.”

Lane said the innovation branch will use “a lot of video technology,” with a dual purpose in becoming as efficient as possible because Cal Coast is looking to deploy it to its entire branch network.

“We want to make sure it works and works well,” Lane said. “We want to have the latest technology in there. It’s tied in with our back office and we need to see that our employees know how to how to use it and can guide the member through that high-tech experience.”

Cal Coast is also planning to open a new spot in the “Promise Zone” of the Logan Heights area in the near future, Lane said, and currently is in the permitting process with the city of San Diego.

“It’s part of our strategy and really our mission purpose of making mainstream financial services accessible to all, especially in the Promise Zone, where they don’t have good access to mainstream financial institutions.”

Lane said Cal Coast, founded in 1929, adds close to 20,000 new members a year. Many access through digital or mobile digital delivery channels, with 2.6 million distinct logins to its mobile channel monthly.

“We don’t have that many people walking into our branches on a monthly basis; the digital channels are certainly growing at a very rapid pace,” Lane said. “There’s much more growth there than what we see in terms of branch traffic, but our members and consumers still want to know that there’s a branch that’s close to them.

“They may not go there to deposit a check or take out cash or even apply for a loan but they want to know ‘There’s our organization, our credit union, our financial institution,’ near where they are, where they live and where they work.”

North Island Credit Union
FOUNDED: 1940 (as Naval Air Station San Diego Federal Credit Union)
PRESIDENT AND CEO: Steve O’Connell
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Nonprofit Financial Services Provider
ASSET SIZE: $4.5 billion (as part of California Credit Union)
EMPLOYEES: 200
WEBSITE: northisland.ccu.com
CONTACT: 800-334-8788
SOCIAL IMPACT: Nonprofit has invested more than $2 million into communities in past five years and has awarded nearly $400,000 in college scholarships to local students
NOTABLE: NICU partners with the USS Midway, Wings Over America and Wounded Warriors

California Coast Credit Union
FOUNDED: 1929
PRESIDENT AND CEO: Todd Lane
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: Nonprofit Financial Services Provider
ASSETS: $3.6 billion
EMPLOYEES: 500
WEBSITE: calcoastcu.org
CONTACT: 877-495-1600
SOCIAL IMPACT: Organization’s Cal Coast Cares Foundation helps local students with college education goals, and provides scholarships to students and grants to educators
NOTABLE: Cal Coast partners with San Diego Humane Society, Rady’s Children’s Hospital and Home Start

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