How a Chicago credit union became a personalization powerhouse

Niches have always been a part of banking's bread and butter, especially for community financial institutions. With so many now needing scale and diversification to handle rising operational costs, can niche-focused banking continue? The story of Chicago Patrolmen's Federal Credit Union and the power of personalization suggests it can.

Replace: Banking a niche comes with certain advantages. It usually offers an institution reduced competition, lower acquisition costs, and greater loyalty, albeit with a smaller group of account holders. But what happens when an institution needs to achieve scale? Must it give up those strengths?

Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union, founded in 1938 to serve Chicago police officers and families, faced that challenge 10 years ago. But, instead of moving on from its niche, it has showcased how to successfully focus on a unique membership as a path to scale through expansion from one urban area to a national footprint.

The now $500 million credit union offers a compelling case study for institutions looking for scale in a segment. Chicago Patrolmen’s has creatively personalized banking products and services through branding and messaging, but it’s also gone far beyond that to launch truly unique police officer products.

That personalization has powered Chicago Patrolmen’s into new relationships with individual officers and their families, as well as their academies, unions and fraternal organizations. And it has transformed the organization into the largest police credit union in the country by geographic reach.


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