A Shared Branching Renaissance?

March 14, 2022

By Trisha Wiggin-Fausnaugh, Director of Shared Branch Operations and Training

With more and more members relying on cell phones, tablets, and laptops to access their accounts, you may wonder what the future holds for Shared Branching.

My crystal ball is broken, but I can tell you that right now, Shared Branching is attracting new credit unions to the network. How can that be?

There are several reasons.

  • The NCUA’s Shared Services Rule has allowed credit unions to include shared branches as part of their plan when looking to expand their field of membership. Credit unions are recognizing the financial benefits of sharing existing branches rather than immediately building their own branches in their new territories.
  • As banks continue to close branches at record paces, their customers that value in person transactions are searching for new FIs with convenient locations. Participation in Shared Branching increases the likelihood that these potential new members will find a nearby branch they can use.
  • More people are working remotely and can live where they want, not necessarily near their employer or office. As these members move away, Shared Branching allows them to continue using their current credit union just as they always have.
  • Some credit unions are experiencing a decline in branch traffic. By opening their branches to guest members, they are using their existing resources to generate additional income.

Here’s what one new participant had to say:

“We wanted to join the Shared Branching Network to better serve our members, regardless of their physical proximity to one of our current locations. We have many members who have moved away from our location including college students that are away from home.

We have recently expanded our field of membership to include areas that are not near our physical locations and felt Shared Branching would be a great solution for those potential new members.”

-Paula Whitworth, Sunlight FCU, Sheridan, WY, $162M Assets

While we might not be seeing a Shared Branching renaissance, it is true that new credit unions are just now discovering what hundreds of credit unions have known for years – that Shared Branching can be a valued part of a credit union’s service offerings.