Pay close attention to what members need and want

Five ways credit unions can put that deposit surge to work

From the national data, and what we’re hearing from our clients, credit unions have seen a deposit surge in the second quarter of 2020. Members are spending less, many are getting back to work, and everyone wants to build their emergency funds in a safe place.

Driven by record low rates, mortgages and mortgage refis are also booming. But you can’t put everything into mortgages; consumer lending powers income, growth and stability, so you still need ways to invest that surge in deposits back into consumer loans. 

Here are five ways to perk up loan growth and put that deposit surge to work!

Relabel around personal goals

Does anyone ever really think much about getting a car loan, a personal or signature loan, or a debt consolidation loan?

Of course not: real people buy cars, fix their plumbing or transmission, or pay off bills.

That’s why you should, without making any policy or process changes, relabel and market your loan products based on the specific ways members use them to improve their lives.

For example, “car loan” is blah and “auto loan” is even blah-er. And most people these days aren’t buying cars anyway; they’re buying SUVs, CUVs, crossovers, electrics, hybrids, vans, and pickups.

Why not a “Truck Loan”, a “Four Year Four Wheel Drive”, or a “Mom’s Taxi” loan? More and more credit unions are already starting to roll out special “green” financing for electric vehicles or hybrids. What about bicycle loans, or home improvement loans that don’t require reams of paperwork? You can even target specific needs and wants like weddings, boats or RVs, or more efficient heating.

Look for the things your members want and need, then get their attention by hanging the right label and the right message on the appropriate loan.


This is a little more work, but maybe you can tweak your loan features and processes to do something no one else can. For example:

  • What if your “Mom’s Taxi” minivan loan came with a nice car seat, or a plug-in cooler for water bottles on longer trips?
  • What if your EV auto loan also financed installing the home charging station?
  • Maybe first-time buyers could really use a  “Hoopty Loan”; special financing for cars under $5,000 with a repair fund savings account?
  • Or maybe you have some enthusiasts who could use a “Shop Loan” to update or build a garage without all the hassle of a home equity loan?
  • RV sales are way up; do members also need “Tow Rig” loans for a bigger truck to pull them?
  • Do your members need “Home Office” or “Home School” loans to upgrade their computers?

Listen to your members and understand what’s happening locally. Credit unions have a huge advantage here; you’re local, in touch with your members, and in the perfect position to find innovative ways to help members reach their personal goals.

Appeal to increased needs for safety and security

Loans aren’t all shiny cars and racking up debt; they can be a fantastic tool for managing your finances responsibly. 

For example, even if you can pay cash for a car, using a car loan can be a great way to keep more of your emergency fund available. Rates are so low that this is almost a no-brainer for a lot of people. 

Same for things like consolidating debts; members might be a little more open nowadays to the idea of lowering their total payments, cutting up the cards, or finally putting those pesky bills to bed. They want to make their families more financially secure.

Look for opportunity in change

If you’ve lowered car loan rates recently (and who hasn’t), there are plenty more refis to be had. Make refinancing incredibly easy so your members can lower their payments or pay off their cars sooner. 

You could even target refis specifically to one idea, like a “Six Months Sooner” loan where your low rates plus a bumped-up payment mean they’re free and clear quicker. 

Similarly, people have driven a lot less in the last six months. What if you had a special deal for people with expiring leases who want to buy that car instead of signing up for another lease?

Serve up combo platters

Sure, cross-selling is an old concept, but take it a step further by combining products to make something new.

For example, what if you had a car loan where part of the payment went into a savings account? At the end of the loan, you can use the money to pay it off early, buy a set of tires, or sweeten the down payment for the next car.

You could do something similar with a credit card/car loan combo platter. The credit card is there if you need repairs or tires, and both are paid off at the end of the loan. This could be extremely appealing for lower-income people worried about car repair or maintenance expenses. Something similar could also be very appealing for people buying high-end cars.

Now is the time to get creative

Pay close attention to what members need and want, and how their needs and priorities have changed. With a bit of creativity, there are always plenty of opportunities for consumer loan growth.

Brian Wringer

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