‘Break Up With Your Bank,’ CU Tells Members

LA Financial FCU also asks young adult members to 'break up' with their loans.

August 26, 2011

LA Financial Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles made an interesting request of its young adult members when promoting its Green Accounts: Break up with your bank.

And now it’s asking these same members to “break up with their loan.”

It’s the $340 million asset credit union’s way of asking young adults to spurn higher-priced banks, refinance higher-rate loans, and embrace LA Financial Federal’s services, says Renee Mackanin, vice president of marketing.

The credit union introduced Green Accounts and rolled out “breakupwithmybank.com” in 2009 after an analysis of its membership revealed an increasingly aging demographic.

The accounts, geared to members ages 13 to 18 and those 18 to 27, offer checking accounts with a debit card, share certificates, auto and personal loans, savings-secured loans, individual retirement accounts, and “additional stuff”—a special Web page, blog, annual birthday card, money tips, and drawings for free music downloads and iPods.

“The campaign definitely appeals to a younger demographic,” Mackanin says.

LA Financial Federal advertises breakupwithmybank.com and Green Accounts on bus backs, in train stations, on television, and with a fleet of cars wrapped with creative from the promotion—but not the credit union’s logo.

“The campaign has its own brand to get people thinking, ‘What’s that all about?’ and to go to the website,” Mackanin explains. “As a small credit union in a big market, people don’t know who LA Financial is. So I thought the best way to compete was to use something that would catch people’s attention.”

Mission accomplished: The credit union opened 645 Green Accounts in 2009 and 482 in 2010, and it currently opens 45 accounts per month, on average. It also has booked 640 loans for more than $7 million among all Green Account members.

LA Financial Federal introduced “breakupwithmyloan.com” in July, targeting the loan refinance market. As a result, loan application volume grew 18.6% and loan approvals increased 44% from the previous month.

The biggest challenge in reaching young adult members is determining which products and services they need most, Mackanin says. The credit union did so by conducting focus groups.

“We wanted to package products and services that appeal to this group and to include education about credit unions, smart use of credit, and so on,” she says. “We want to have special things for them, and not treat them like everyone else.

“We’re trying to get the message out,” Mackanin continues. “I wish credit unions could band together to create a campaign for credit union awareness. If we all got the word out, it would help us all.”