Credit Union Brand Trust: Tips for Weathering a Banking Crisis


Credit unions have long been known for offering members more personalized service and better rates than big banks. As the banking industry faces mounting financial challenges, it is important for credit unions to ensure their brand trust remains intact.

To do that, CUs must focus on ways to proactively protect their reputation in order to weather a banking crisis. Let’s explore the importance of developing strong relationships with members, emphasizing customer service, and implementing technology strategies that support organizational success by building credit union brand trust.

Reacting to SVB Concerns

In 2022, consumer trust in banks in the US fell for the first time in several years, according to Forbes. In early March 2023, the Silicon Valley Bank collapsed. And with its demise (it’s the largest bank crash since the 2008 financial crisis) came lots of uncertainty and questions from bank and credit union members all over the country.

Investors and banking members were alarmed about SVB’s lack of transparency in the lead-up to its collapse. Many dumped their banking sector stocks and started withdrawing funds from accounts in anticipation of further financial industry instability. In the days that followed, the fervor died down a bit, but there is now a large number of watchful eyes staring at the banking industry with distrust.

And though your credit union was likely not tied to any of the SVB issues, it’s a powerful study in the importance of deliverability and transparency as it relates to building and maintaining trust in your brand. Because of that, we wanted to discuss some of the best ways to bolster brand trust in an authentic way.

Pay Attention to Third-Party Risks

It is virtually impossible to run any financial institution (or any business in general) without third-party integrations. But your credit union is responsible for every vendor you bring into the mix and integrate with your operations.

Because of that, your leaders and board members should be highlighting third-party risk as a top-level concern and assessing the potential regulatory, reputational, financial, and operational risks each vendor may pose to your CU.

Invest in Industry News and Education Access for Your Staff

While your credit union was not the financial institution that failed, your members may have questions about it. When big news items, like a bank collapse, make their way across news outlets and social media platforms, they also often become front-of-mind issues for your members.

And in order to instill confidence and retain credit union brand trust, you should be investing in training and education for your staff that will help bridge these gaps in the general public’s knowledge of a news report and the actual incident.

For example, though this latest financial industry shakeup was well-contained and not a widespread problem, many banks and credit unions all over the country had members withdrawing a little extra money, just as a precaution. But you can prevent this misplaced fear by prioritizing keeping staff members apprised of industry news.

Just having a friendly face in your branch who is able to articulate that SVB’s issues were caused by a lack of diversification and a heavy reliance on unstable business from tech startups can alleviate fears.

Your members have almost unfettered public access to breaking news, and being able to keep your staff in the loop on industry happenings can bolster brand trust by showing that your employees are well-versed in the industry and knowledgeable about current events that may be impacting the financial sector.

Social Assurance shared some great insights and a list of talking points specifically for discussing the SVB incident, but many of them can be tailored to address a myriad of different situations.

Make Brand Promises, Then Deliver on Them

The majority of brand trust can be won by “walking the talk.” If you make promises in your marketing efforts or on a one-to-one basis in your credit union branches, you need to also honor those terms and follow through on those promises.

Your members know you best by the content you present to the world – they can find this content on your website or social pages, or they can hear it from your employees or other members. And since we are all savvier as consumers than we’ve ever been at any other point in history, that means your words are just the tip of the brand trust iceberg. You have to prove, through your brand’s actions, that your credit union truly serves its members the way it claims to.

Seek External Regulation, Compliance, and Endorsement

When you see a celebrity you know and love endorsing a product, you are making assumptions about that product based on your feelings about that celebrity. And whether the notoriety comes from a prominent figure in your industry, pop culture, or in the form of a regulatory or compliance award or certification, that external validation of your brand is one of the primary currencies traded in the bid to win your members’ trust.

Make sure your website is hosted by reputable vendors, use high-level and industry-backed encryption services, make your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy details available online, and make them easy to read.

All these things aid in the transparency of your operations and help right-size expectations for your members.

Don’t Forget to Communicate

People don’t trust brands that don’t respond in a timely and helpful manner. Your members should have access to communication options – phone number, chatbot, member services email address, and more.

When you don’t speak up for your brand, others will fill in the silence – and that is rarely a good thing.

Great Member Tools Help Build Credit Union Brand Trust

Keeping your credit union’s reputation one that can be trusted is only half the battle – you also have to prove how you are contributing to your members’ financial wellness plans.

IMS Integration can help you do that. We have several CU solutions that were created to face problems head-on with elegant, member-facing web solutions. From Make A Statement to our Online Courtesy Pay software and Self-Service forms, IMSI is here to partner with your credit union so you can serve your members and build brand trust.

Financial Wellness and Credit Unions


Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. say that money is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to the American Psychological Association. And money-related stress is more prevalent in younger adults, which means it’s time to start talking about financial wellness benefits and strategies for your credit union.

Financial wellness is a hot topic in the world of personal finance today. Financial wellness is all about ensuring you have the financial stability and security necessary to achieve your goals and live a fulfilled life. Credit unions are playing an ever-growing role in helping people reach their financial wellness goals due to their unique structure, services, and commitment to their members.

Why Credit Unions Should Lead with Financial Wellness Programs

Financial wellness is the state in which someone finds themselves with enough money available for their expenses (bills, debts, and emergencies) as well as some ability to plan for and build their financial assets for future endeavors.

Financial uncertainty is at an all-time high, and so is the general public’s distrust of big corporations and banks. So why should credit unions lean so heavily into financial wellness initiatives for their members? Because they are already perfectly positioned to do so.

Credit unions have so much more data and knowledge of the communities and individuals that they are serving, and that means your knowledge of the local financial climate is better than that of a big bank.

But it’s more than just curating a great Resources page on your credit union website. You can help your members learn how to keep up with and understand transactional data and help them find solutions to their specific financial issues.

Your members don’t want general, one-size-fits-most advice – they can get that from Google. But what you can offer them is a personalized approach to financial wellness programs, whether it’s classes that teach financial education or one-on-one meetings to help someone improve their credit score to apply for a car or home loan.

A Human Approach is Powerful

Your members are real people with real struggles. They want tailored assistance and insights that help them navigate their financial future with confidence. According to NCR, more than half of all banking members want their primary financial institutions to give them personalized financial advice.

Simply sharing links and resources with helpful information isn’t enough. Think of it like this: if everyone could learn best from a written resource, there would be no need for teachers. So, what makes teachers so valuable? It’s the human connection and the ability to break down subjects in a way that can reach students of different ages, learning capabilities, and more. 

Your credit union caters to people in all types of financial situations. Like the elderly couple who own a home in the country and live simply, without much dependence on technology. But it also caters to the Gen Z college student who has almost never carried cash in her life and uses digital banking to pay all her bills. The financial wellness resources you’ll share with these two different member types can use several of the same principles, and you can humanize your approach to meet each of their needs.

Financial Wellness Can Strengthen Communities

Financial literacy isn’t just being talked about in the financial industry – it’s also a hot topic in education, from primary school to adult evening classes and college programs. You may be wondering why that is, and here’s the reason: financial wellness benefits not only individuals, but it can also strengthen communities.

Financial literacy and education for adults (regardless of their personal financial situation) helps them learn more about managing personal finances, build better futures for themselves and their children, and also allows them to give back to their communities through charity and products or services they offer through newly opened businesses!

Financial literacy is also being taught more in schools (an effort credit unions can help with if they choose to). This creates a better understanding of how financial decisions should be made over the course of a decade, a person’s life, or even generations. Basic financial education and literacy can help set teenagers and young adults up for a lifetime of success.

Creating opportunities for people to start learning about financial wellness through every stage of their lives is a great way to strengthen the personal and economic aspects of the communities you and your credit union serve.

This also helps strengthen communities by creating opportunities for people to be open and honest about their financial struggles – something that is becoming a larger part of the financial wellness movement. Mental health and work-life balance are now larger motivators than high salaries, and that means being smart with your money also has a mental and emotional component to how your members are making financial decisions, from everyday purchases to long-term investment and retirement planning.

Help Your Credit Union Members with Financial Wellness Services Powered by IMSI

Your members have all come to your credit union for different reasons and with different financial plans. They have different preferences for your financial products, services, packages, and expertise. And IMSI wants to help you meet those needs.

IMSI offers online self-service forms that help you collect the information required to fulfill member self-service requests. You can customize them and integrate them with your other online banking services. 

Don’t Miss These Top Credit Union Conferences in 2023


So much has changed since the earliest days of the pandemic, in our lives and in the credit union industry. The rise of digital transformation, branch sharing, and so much more have shaped how your members interact with your credit union, as well as how your credit union does and should do business.

And now that we’re settling into the days of the “new normal,” we are comforted that many things look the same now as they did before 2020, like full in-person and online conference schedules that allow us to connect with industry peers and experts.

With that, we wanted to kick off the new year with some great insights about the top credit union conferences that will be taking place this year.

CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Conference

The CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council conference is being held in Orlando, Florida on March 26-29, 2023, and it will focus on addressing relevant and impactful trends in the credit union industry right now.

If credit union marketing is a topic you are looking to dive into this year as you are looking for the best conferences for your team and leaders, you should also consider the MAC (Marketing Association of Credit Unions) 2023 Conference as well, which is being held in Nashville, Tennessee from May 22nd to the 25th.

Engage 2023: NAFCU’s Annual Conference

June 27-30, 2023 is when NAFCU is having its 2023 conference in Long Beach, California. This conference is perfect for credit union CEOs, presidents, executive management teams, board members, and supervisory committee members. Their daily general sessions will cover a wealth of topics that will be engaging and informative for any credit union professional looking to learn more about the industry we all love.

Some of the things you’ll be doing include learning about emerging industry trends, discussing actionable insights like how to attract and retain quality talent, and diving into a wide array of topics like cryptocurrency, AI, payments, growth strategies, and more.

For credit union leaders looking to focus on growth in 2023, NAFCU is also holding a Strategic Growth Conference in Nashville, Tennessee in March.

2023 World Credit Union Conference

From July 23rd to the 26th, in Vancouver, Canada, the 2023 World Credit Union Conference is being hosted by the CCUA (Canadian Credit Union Association) and the World Council of Credit Unions.

This unique conference has a global attendance roster, which allows you to network with people from all over the world while you discuss the similar (and differing) credit union trends, struggles, and techniques that make our industry tick.

There are general sessions and 4 concurring breakout sessions per day, with lots of opportunities to network and learn from your CU peers all over the world.

Expand Expo 2023

We wanted to offer a variety of learning and networking opportunities in this article, and that’s why we also wanted to feature the Expand Expo 2023, a conference more geared toward training and development in the CU industry.

This conference is scheduled for September 17-21, 2023 in Hershey, Pennsylvania and is hosted by Horizon Federal Credit Union. You will get to learn about how to create loyal members, connect with others, develop a work-life balance, and increase performance through emotional and behavioral change. You can learn more about this 2023 conference here.

IMSI: Your Partner in Those Big Post-Conference Plans

For more 2023 conference information, you can check out CU Conferences and NAFCU’s Conferences page.

You can also learn more about upcoming credit union conferences by visiting the Conferences and Events page from Credit Union Executives Society. It has tons of educational and networking opportunities listed, both online and in person.

Your credit union deserves an online stage that is worthy of the best conference hall and reception. And IMSI has a wealth of great services to help you put your brand’s best foot forward.

Our well-honed industry experience coupled with our technical expertise in web development is the perfect combination for your next credit union website project. Whether you are looking to add more self-service forms or landing pages to your site, or you are looking to refresh everything from the homepage on down, check out our custom web development services and contact us for more information.

And don’t forget to let us know what 2023 conference you’re most excited about and why! Follow us on social media and here on our blog page for insights about the credit union industry, tips and tricks, news, and more.