MADISON, Wis. (2/26/10)--Some employees at credit unions who used to work for banks say their work experience is significantly different when their clients are not just customers but also owners, according to a publication for bankers. Several advisors and program managers who switched jobs to credit unions from banks said the genuine service culture perpetuated by credit unions creates member loyalty worth noting (bankinvestmentconsultant.com March 1). “The relationship with members is just incredibly compelling, and the internal support is also amazing, because the employees at a credit union have a real drive to make a difference in the members’ lives,” Michael Gradl, a program manager at Redwood CU in Santa Rosa, Calif., told the publication. Larry Braley moved from Guaranty Bank in Stockton, Calif., to the Kern Schools FCU in Bakersfield, Calif., because, with $1.8 billion in assets and 185,000 members, it was the biggest financial institution in Bakersfield. Initially, he worked for CFS, a credit union-owned broker-dealer, but the investment program moved in-house when it grew to five representatives and three assistants, the publication said. “When our logo changed from KFS to Kern Schools FCU, it gave us instant credibility,” he added. “It turns out that link with the members is critical. Within weeks of that change, referrals jumped like crazy.” While some people say that credit unions’ characteristics are similar to community banks in terms of service and community loyalty, some of the former community bankers interviewed say that isn’t the case. “At a bank, even a community bank, even when they put a focus on service, it’s still ultimately about sales,” Donna McNeely, who in mid-February left a bank job to become program manager at Premier America CU in Chatsworth, Calif., told the publication. “At a credit union, even if they try to increase sales, the focus is still on service to the members,” she added. She also noted that there’s collaboration-- rather than competition--among different credit unions. To read the article, use the link.