295 credit unions added Select Employee Groups (SEGs)—groups that share any common bond of association or occupation—to their Fields of Membership (FOM) in 2020. All told, 7,540 specific SEGs were added, which led to more than 18 million potential new members in total, good for an average of over 60,000 per credit union and right around 30,000 per group. Due to the large number of institutions adding SEGs, however, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. For example, the median potential new members per institution was only 500, while the median per group was slightly more than 100.

Given these large discrepancies across the board, a deeper, more segmented look at the trends within data provided by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is required.

The Biggest Credit Unions Add the Most SEGs

The credit unions with the greatest resources at their disposal added the most select groups overall. Of the nearly 300 institutions adding SEGs in 2020, 76 of these (close to 25%) had more than $1 billion in assets. Between them, this faction added an average of 67 groups per credit union with a median number of 10, the highest in both categories for any group analyzed.

The impressive figure, however, did not translate into greater numbers of potential new members, because the average size of the SEGs was considerably smaller than additions at smaller credit unions. Between them, the billion-plus faction added an average of fewer than 25,000 potential new members each, with a median of 3,337. Breaking down the data further, each group yielded an average of 5,000 potential members, with a median of 187.

Interestingly, the credit unions adding the most potential new members were not the biggest in terms of assets within this peer group, as the five institutions to add more than one hundred thousand potential new members were all less than $5 billion in assets. Conversely, the five credit unions on the list with more than $10 billion in assets did not deviate much, if at all, from the overall average and median.

Within this collection of billion-plus credit unions, the approaches to additions varied, with some adding many smaller select groups and others electing to target fewer, larger SEGs. This is highlighted by the two institutions that added the most potential new members: Sandia Laboratory and Farmers Insurance Group, both of which came in at around 294,000. Sandia reached the mark through the addition of 55 separate SEGs of an average size of 5,355, while Farmers added a single group.

Greatest Potential Membership Growth = $500M to $1B Range

Credit unions with assets between $500 million and $1 billion, a group comprising 37 and accounting for 12.5% of credit unions adding SEGs in 2020, reached the most potential new members by far. Despite the list containing less than half as many institutions as the billion-plus segment, nearly ten-times as many potential new members were added for an average of 228,783, even if the median was a somewhat more sober 1,459 per credit union.

This all came through the addition of far less SEGs overall: 33.3 on average and a median of six per credit union, meaning, naturally, the sizes of the groups added were far larger: 26,252 on average and a median of 164.

The main driver of these impressive totals was Notre Dame FCU, which added more than five million potential new members across 167 SEGs. Even removing Notre Dame from the comparison with larger credit unions, the peer group averages 94,908 potential new members per credit union, nearly four times as many as the billion-plus group.

One Credit Union Skews $100M–$500M Dollar Crew Stats

Credit unions with between $100 million and $500 million in assets made up the largest portion of those adding SEGs, with its total of 81 accounting for roughly 27.5% overall. In total, this segment added an average of 96,119 potential new members and median of 802 per institution. An average of 11.6 select groups were added with a median of three SEGs.

While the numbers may appear comparable to the $500 million to $1 billion credit unions, virtually all the additions come from a single credit union. Beehive FCU added a single SEG of 6.64 million potential new members, a total that complicates the data. Removing Beehive, the peer group averages only 14,329 potential new members, with a median of 766.

Further, the average group size of 92,260, the highest of any segment, plummets in the absence of Beehive to the far more realistic 10,422.

Smallest Credit Unions Add the Fewest SEGs

Both the $50 million to $100 million (35 credit unions making up around 12% of those adding SEGs) and less than $50 million (66 credit unions; 22%) credit union asset classes saw similarly slim numbers in terms of additions in 2020.

In the $50 million to $100 million range, 2.9 SEGs were added on average per credit union, with a median of two each. The new SEGs generated to an average of 808 potential new members per institution, with a median of 112. Only one credit union reached more than 10 select groups: ACMG added 14 at an average size of 62 people per group. Similarly, just one institution added more than 10,000 potential new members, with ElecTel Cooperative FCU hitting the 11,000-new potential member mark through the addition of a single SEG.

Looking at the less than $50 million credit unions, the drop off continues with an average of 2.1 select groups added per credit union and median of just one, with an average of 775 potential new members, and a median of 50 new potential members per institution.

Again, just one credit union added more than 10 SEGs, with $8 million Espeeco FCU reaching 11 at an average size of just 10.4 people per group. Clean Energy FCU was the only credit union in this segment to add more that 10,000 potential new members to its FOM, with a total of 27,904—more than five times greater than their nearest peer.

Final Thought: Size Does Matter

While there are certainly exceptions to this rule and the overall numbers will be skewed by outliers, the biggest credit unions are largely the ones adding the most SEGs, thus reaching the most potential new members. These credit unions are also the ones likely to have the resources to serve more members, but the spirit in credit unions of all sizes to improve the financial wellbeing through collaboration. It is through collaboration that credit unions—as a movement—can obtain real scale.

Field of Membership Expansion

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