margins of financial institutions. “It really is anybody’s guess” what will happen with interest rates, Nothem said, but he added one thing of which he is sure: “We’re very well positioned to get through it.”
Premier Financial Credit Union has reached that position of strength via having a combination of great member service and offering all the tools members want and need. Nothem said compared to all Wisconsin credit unions, Premier Financial did better than most in terms of growth and profitability during 2013. Despite the lack of population growth in this area in 2013, Premier Financial added 600 new members last year, meaning it is gaining more market share among people looking for a financial institution which will treat them well.
Nothem attributes that growth to taking care of people and not getting complacent, especially with the younger generation which is adept at using mobile devices. “I also think it’s going back to the basics,” he said.
Focus on the family
There also is a strong focus on serving the whole family. From sponsoring Easter egg hunts to hosting the Easter bunny, holding a Family Night at New Holstein’s Aquatic Center, having areas for children to play in while mom and/ or dad is doing business, or the longtime offering known as the Penny Pouch Club, Premier Financial Credit Union shows interest in taking care of the next generation of credit union members as well as they are taking care of the current ones.
“All our offices have a renewed focus
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to make sure when we see you, it’s an unforgettable experience,” Nothem said.
He added that Premier Financial began its One Team, One Goal effort in 2012 to try to “step up its game” when it comes to member services. Its “game” was already good, of course, but Nothem said he believes it can always be better. Training throughout 2013 kept the momentum going, and in April of this year managers of Premier Financial will be attending training in Chicago for even more advanced leadership and member service skills.
Member service has changed over the years, however, as fewer people see the need to stop in at their local credit union because of the advent of online and mobile banking. Premier Financial is far from being the largest financial institution around, yet it provides all the modern financial services people have come to expect. Online banking and bill paying have been available at Premier Financial for years, and mobile services became available during 2013.
Financial security measures is another hot topic these days, especially in light of several much-reported and widespread breaches within the past year. Premier Financial is now using Verified by Visa, a program which adds an extra layer of security to make it harder for someone to use another person’s Visa card to shop online in the unfortunate event that their Visa card or account number is lost or stolen. Nothem said Mastercard has a similar program.
Here is how the simple program works: When people pay with their Visa card, the Verified by Visa service launches automatically at participating online stores. After the person enters their Visa card number and submits their order, a Verified by Visa window will appear and the card issuer will display an authentication page. The process requires a password to be entered, but that single step is being viewed by consumers as a tiny bit of work for the benefit of additional protection.
Members have to enroll their Visa card numbers into the program, and the merchants with whom they are shopping have to be part of the program. Nothem said more and more parties on both ends are doing this as fears of security breaches continue to spread.
Visa and other credit cards already have multiple layers of protection, but this adds one more to try to thwart these online criminals. Verified by Visa is designed to protect the Visa card, or cards, that people already have, whether they are credit cards or debit cards.
It is all part of going the extra mile for Premier Financial Credit Union’s members who, after all, are really the owners of the credit union.