I’ve been following First Tech Federal Credit Union since my days as a Seattle-based banker. They were quite the thorn in our side, attracting all the Microsoft employees despite our integration with Microsoft Money.
Fast-forward two decades and the credit union is still going gangbusters, nearing $10 billion in assets and 425,000 members. Its latest coup was to nab a coveted “Best of” award from MONEY (aka Money Magazine). The publisher named First Tech The Best Credit Union for Everyone in its annual review of the best banks. First Tech was the only credit union mentioned. TD Bank and US Bank tied for Best Big Bank. Chase was named Most Convenient and First Internet Bank received top honors in the Online Bank category with Ally receiving an honorable mention.
Naturally, I headed over to First Tech to see for myself what had so impressed the Money editors, aside from great pricing. The CU has a bright and modern desktop site (although they still have some work to do on mobile). I especially loved the sales tool on the homepage (see below). The prospective member chooses their products, and the cumulative savings is shown on the right. It’s one of the best sales tools I’ve ever seen, although I would like to see a little more transparency on how the numbers were calculated.
Bottom line: Consumers consistently rate switching banks as one of their least favorite tasks. To get someone to budge, you must get their attention with clear benefits. And if you are a low-cost, high-APY FI, there is no better way to do that than flaunting your money-savings benefits.
At least two financial institutions moved quickly to add an iPhone button for their websites:
- Tech Credit Union was the first financial institution to let us know with a comment posted to NetBanker by Gabriel Garcia at 9:50 AM Thursday
- However, Wachovia may have beaten them to it, since the bank already programmed the feature in advance of the Jobs announcement according to the Director of Emerging Trends, Ilieva Ageenko, who posted this comment at 4:30 PM Thursday. Ilieva also said that Wachovia is working on an iPhone optimized homepage.
Kudos to both financial institutions, first for adapting quickly to the iPhone opportunity, and more importantly by getting the word out by commenting on an industry blog. Anyone else add an iPhone Web Clip to their website? Let us know by adding your comment to the original post here.
YouTube is mostly an entertainment site, but it also can be used by businesses in a number of ways. The best example in financial services is Intuit's viral TurboTax Rap which has now attracted more than 1 million YouTube views, if you count the parodies (previous coverage here).
We've noticed a few financial institution postings on YouTube this year. However, San Jose, CA-based Technology Credit Union is the first we've seen to fully embrace the site, creating its own YouTube page <youtube.com/techcublog>.
The credit union posted four television commercials and another homemade video they called a "podcast."* Total views of the five spots is about 500. While that may not drive much new traffic, it's a smart move considering the minimal time and zero cost to post content to YouTube.
And, for first-movers such as Tech CU, the ability to garner press and blog attention is an added bonus.* While Tech CU hasn't done this yet, embedding YouTube videos into your website is a great way to make your website look more modern and get additional mileage out of your television advertising.
So far, Tech CU has only mentioned the YouTube page is a press release about its new television ads (here). But, I'm sure more integration is coming.
*Tech CU took a little heat at OpenSource CU about the commercial masquerading as a podcast (see discussion here). However, Tech CU ended the criticism by explaining that the podcast was a test.
In response to my post last week about online archives (here and here), I heard from Citibank and WaMu, who both support online requests for statements going back seven years (see note 1). The statements are delivered online, free of charge, and in WaMu's case, generally within five minutes. The customer receives an email notification when the statement is available. That's slightly less convenient than real-time access, but it still provides 98% of the value (see note 2), which is quite acceptable.
But the new winner, with the longest online archives, is San Jose-based Technology CU which provides free online access to statements going back to 1993. That's 14 years and counting. Tech CU also requires an online request for the back statements, but with the archives hosted in-house, they are readable within seconds. In response to my question, SVP Michael Luckin timed the query for me, and was able to login, request and receive an older statement, and logout in 20 seconds. That ought to satisfy most members.
1. The Citibank archives were included in our previous summer 2005 report, but at that time we did not know of WaMu's expanded archives which became available in March 2005, but were evidently not discussed on its website when we did our research.
2. None of the statement archive systems mentioned here allow the customer to search for specific transactions or to manipulate/download the actual data. Only Whitney Bank offers seven years of searchable online data.