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Revised Estimates of New People Joining Credit Unions

New data received from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has prompted clarification of earlier estimates that 650,000 new people joined credit unions prior to Bank Transfer Day. The latest figures from the CUNA’s October Monthly Estimates (which CUNA has been doing for 30 years and are a better indicator of actual growth) indicate credit unions added about 441,000 new members over the period of September-October (227,000 in September and 214,000 in October).

CUNA believes the difference stems from the fact that the wording in the earlier survey was likely interpreted by some credit unions as asking for estimates of both new members and new share draft accounts opened by existing members.Although they have no separate source of information on new share draft account opening by existing members, they believe it’s quite likely that as many as 400,000 new checking accounts were opened by existing members in October. The combination of new members in October and new checking accounts from existing members would put the total close to the 650,000 estimate in the earlier CUNA pre-Bank Transfer Day survey.

The difference in the two surveys’ findings was explained to the credit union trade press during CUNA’s weekly press call. Both Credit Union Times and Journal posted web stories, followed by American Banker, and there has been some mainstream press pickup of the revised estimates by those who saw the trade press reports (e.g., CNN Money.com).

Click here for a fact sheet prepared by CUNA on the revised information. Key points emphasized include the fact that the revised estimates still demonstrate unusually strong credit union membership growth surrounding Bank Transfer Day. The 441,000 new members added in September/October, for example, is about 75% of total credit union membership growth for all of 2010. And that doesn’t count the many existing members who opened checking accounts—the most “sticky” of financial products and an essential ingredient for a primary financial institution relationship.

Please use the revised estimates noted above going forward rather than the 650,000 figure from CUNA’s earlier survey. The October figures do not include the additional 40,000 new people estimated that joined credit unions on November 5, Bank Transfer Day. That 40,000 figure is not being revised.