Here’s an interesting question. What is one of the longest, if not the longest, relationships a person will experience in their life?

Here’s a hint – it’s not a marriage. In fact, it may not even be friendship.

It’s a person’s relationship with their bank, and primarily, their checking account. It’s true! Just think of the longest relationships and biggest life needs and you’ll be amazed. The average length of car ownership? Eight years. Homeownership? A little better, but only 13 years.

A marriage last longer, right? Nope! Most last eight years on average. Friendships are the closest to the truth at 17 years but still not quite as long as a person’s relationship with their checking account and bank. That comes in at almost 18 years!

This provides some explanation for why it can be difficult to convince that member to move their relationship to us. We’ve asked and we’ve asked but they just don’t seem to budge! Well, let’s look at why it can be so hard to convince them to move their primary relationship to us (and why some relationships just don’t last)!

Looking back to the statistic on marriage, Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. states that adult development moves in roughly seven years blocks. Why? Needs change. People change. Seven years is a significant amount of time. Just think about how often your needs change financially. Odds are, you aren’t in the same financial place as you were even six months ago, let alone seven years ago! The fact is, needs change and if those needs aren’t being met – sometimes it’s best to look to a new provider. And people do just that.

So why, if needs change financially, more often than romantically, do more people stay with their bank rather than move? Studies show the largest factor is pricing. Two types of costs are to be considered here – time and money. Roughly 48% of checking accounts are considered free or not having a monthly charge. Those that do charge a fee, charge $14 a month or almost $170 a year for their service. Also, the convenience. Moving a checking account isn’t easy or fun. Balancing the need to move with the cost (and aggravation) of moving is a fine balancing act. Often, the monetary savings doesn’t overcome the time expense of the move. Much like a friend is stuck in a bad marriage, our prospective members may be staying with their bank simply due to the fact that it costs so much to get a divorce! Although as the known joke says, the reason divorces cost so much is because they’re worth it.

So, if you’re looking to grow your membership but coming up short, what would make the cost of divorcing your current bank worth it? Let’s look at a few steps to consider increasing your member acquisition and target the right members for your organization.

  • Ideal Member: We often speak of the ideal members at YMC. We do this for a number of reasons. One, to help our credit unions realize that you exist to serve your members but more importantly, you exist to serve your ideal member. What type of group or people can you serve best with your existing products and processes? Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be truly something great for someone. Focus on the type of member you want and who wants your organization. It’ll be easier to target those individuals and close the sale. In short, don’t toss such a large net – know what you’re looking for.
  • Do a relationship deep-dive: What are your worst-performing services? Based on your ideal member, take a hard look at what you are offering. Does it meet their needs? Can you cut any services, particularly those that may cost your organization, that your ideal member just isn’t interested in? Spend money on what matters to your members and cut what doesn’t. Secondly, see what matters most to your existing, ideal member. Is there a service, technology, or benefit that matters most to them? Remember that their needs change, and so should our products. Survey, call, and ask. See what’s missing and what can provide the most value to them.
  • Set boundaries: Boundaries are healthy. Know that you aren’t going to please everyone and every person in your field of membership won’t bank with your organization. That’s ok! Calculate what’s needed to focus on your ideal member. Those that fall outside of that scope can look towards other organizations as they may be just what that organization is looking for. Remember, we want our relationships to be mutually beneficial.

Need help to determine your ideal member or researching what matters most to them? Reach out to us! We help narrow the field of vision so that the only people who have eyes for you are those you are best to serve.

Adam is a Relationship Development Leader at YMC with a diverse background in the financial industry. Having lead teams at several financial institutions, Adam got the opportunity to see how credit union marketing directly impacts the members it’s designed to serve. Got an idea you want to share with him? Contact him at

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