Outbound Lending Brings Members Onboard

Illinois CU beats out banks for a five-year contract with a university alumni credit card.

April 2, 2012

In 2010, $255 million asset University of Illinois Employees Credit Union in Champaign competed with national banks to win a five-year contract to offer an affinity credit card with the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

The card fueled the acquisition of 5,000 new members in 2011, up from its annual average of 4,012 new members.

That year, the credit union’s net member growth totaled 2,694, bringing it above 40,000 members for the first time.

University of Illinois Employees’ field of membership includes employees of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, its alumni association, and anyone who lives and works in Champaign County.

“We really have a new group we can market to and a new product we can lead with,” says Greg Anderson, senior vice president. “That has been a great value-add for us.”

New members acquired through the credit card program, however, typically live in Chicago (more than two hours away by car) and apply online for membership.

That created an onboarding challenge for the credit union, which previously relied on face-to-face interactions in the branch to introduce products to new members.

The solution: “We put together an outbound lending position whose role is to simply call those new members, welcome them to the credit union, and tell them about the product and service opportunities they now have,” says Chris Harlan, vice president of sales and service.

Introduced in March 2011, the new position generated $3 million in new loans by the end of the year.

Overall, loans outstanding grew more than 18%—from $176 million at year-end 2010 to $209 million at year-end 2011. That increased the credit union’s loan-to-share ratio from 76% to 87.5%.

Harlan says the first products offered to new members to expand the relationship are either auto loans or credit card balance transfers.

Then the credit union promotes mortgages and debt consolidation options.