PORTLAND, Ore. (11/5/08)--About 20 million U.S. small businesses are clearly underserved by banks, and that spells opportunity for credit unions, according to a financial services consultant who spoke at a seminar for the credit union industry. Larry Middleman, president/CEO of CU Business Group, spoke to a crowd of about 70 at Southwest Corporate FCU’s first Member Business Services seminar last week in Dallas. “One single business relationship offers tremendous opportunities,” Middleman said. “Typically, a business uses double the number of financial products a consumer does. In addition, credit unions have the ability to market to the business owners as well as their employees.” Middleman emphasized the importance of developing a business services strategy that encompasses:
* Understanding what businesses members want; * Finding the credit union’s niche; * Demonstrating the credit union’s commitment to business services; * Hiring and developing the right expertise; and * Diversifying the business loan portfolio.
Finding a niche is an area in which credit unions can improve, Middleman said. “Credit unions can define their unique qualities by developing a ‘30-second spiel’ that highlights their competitive advantages,” he added. “Then, employees can more effectively respond to business owners when asked why they should do business with their credit union instead of a bank.” CU Business Group LLC provides business lending, deposit and consulting services to credit unions nationwide. Partnering with 11 corporate credit unions, eight of which are owners, CU Business Group provides strategic and technical expertise to a business lending to credit unions.