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SECU expands in Washington metro area — and online

SECU, Maryland’s largest credit union, has been expanding in the Washington metropolitan area. Last year it opened a brick-and-mortar branch in the Maple Lawn community in Fulton and another in Frederick, for a total of 25 financial centers across the state.

Michele Moore, SECU’s senior vice president of member services, said  the credit union seeks to raise its profile in the community and to better serve its 250,000 members.

SECU also launched a virtual financial center last year. Conceived as a way to connect with members during the COVID-19 pandemic, the center features a branch leader, an assistant manager and staff able to meet online with members.

Traditional brick-and-mortar branches have weekday hours, plus a few hours on Saturdays. The virtual center offers extended hours throughout the week and on Saturdays, a boon to members with nontraditional work schedules, such as those in health care, Moore said.

To use the virtual SECU center, members go online to make an appointment and then receive a link that takes them to their virtual, face-to-face meeting with a SECU adviser.

“(The virtual financial center) has helped us to attract members in this community, which is really helping us to see that there is an opportunity for us to expand further out here in this market,” Moore said. “As we look at the future of our virtual financial center, we expect that those hours will significantly increase, as we want to make things very convenient for our members.”

The credit union also seeks to enhance its relationship with members in other ways.

“What we hear from our members is that they want to be rewarded for their relationship,” Moore said. “We are really focused on creating rewarding relationships. If a member has a checking, savings account (or) credit card (with us), they are rewarded for the relationship in the way of rates, cash back and other reward services.”

Last year, the credit union also launched SECU Financial Partners, which pairs members with wealth management consultants who help with financial planning. Moore said SECU saw the need for the service during the pandemic, as many customers saw their incomes change or contemplated early retirement.

Moore said one of SECU’s core goals is to improve the financial health of not only its members but also the communities it serves.

“That is important, that is our commitment and we will continue to listen and reflect on members’ needs,” Moore said.