Reflecting on Credit Unions

After 25 years as CEO of Synergent and the Maine Credit Union League, and 44 total years of service to the organization, John Murphy will be retiring. Before his departure, Mainebiz interviewed Murphy  for his thoughts and perspective on credit unions in Synergent’s home state of Maine and the industry at large.

Credit Union Growth

Maine credit unions continue to grow. Having operated in Maine for nearly 100 years, 2016 was a year of continued growth for the state’s 58 credit unions, with a 6.5% increase in assets to $7.3 billion, loan increases of 9.6% to $5.2 billion, and membership growth increases of 2.8% to 685,926.

“We’re thrilled to see a gain of 70,000 members just in the last five years,” shared Murphy. “If you think of a state like Maine that has not had any real population growth if any at all, to see this trend is certainly something that we’re really happy with. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, not only local, but owned by the people that use their services, so it makes sense that you see strong credit union support in the state.”

Members & Advancing Technology

Credit unions are a good investment, not only for members who also owners, but for what they do for their communities. The credit union motto “People Helping People” is exhibited day in and day out by credit unions. With technology advancing, Synergent helps credit unions offer the latest products, services, and innovations to their members in Maine and beyond.

“Credit unions have an obligation to the members to provide the services that members expect and deserve,” stated Murphy. “Credit unions have done a good job in that regard. They’ve come together to form the largest branch network in the state with over 175 branches, created the largest ATM surcharge-free network, and they’re using the latest technology whether it be mobile or home banking. Credit unions aren’t our great-grandparents’ credit unions anymore. Part of that is the role that technology now plays in the delivery of financial services.”

Looking Towards the Future

“The branch of the future is going to look much different, you won’t walk in and see a 20-station teller counter,” reflected Murphy. “But branches will still deploy all the products and services that members expect through various delivery channels.

Even with advancing technology, the brick-and-mortar branch is still a very valuable and necessary component of credit union offerings. In another recent article by Mainebiz, they described how the different channels – ATMs, branches, online banking and mobile applications – all work in concert to provide optimal member engagement and experience.

“Next-generation customer engagement solutions are aiming at creating a more consistent experience and advanced functionality across all channels. While digital channels are taking over after the onboarding process, the future of the branch channel lies in new customer acquisition, the sale of more complex products, and more pointed guidance for customers wanting face-to-face interactions,” cited a November 2016 report by Boston research and advisory firm Aite Group.