Affinity Plus set to open first

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2017) – Affinity Plus debuts its first next-generation branch Wednesday, Aug. 16, in the Atwood Memorial Center on the St. Cloud State University campus.
The branch opens in an expanded space the credit union has been located in for 20 years, just off Atwood Memorial Center’s main entrance.

The most-obvious change for members and passersby will be a large, curved window that showcases the branch’s emphasis on an open design and technology including iPads, digital signage and more.

NEXT GENERATION BUILDS ON THE PAST
The open spaces and technology members will see in the new branch are key parts of the “next-generation” approach, said Taylor Murray, Affinity Plus vice president of Branch Services.

Still, the third component is something as long-standing as the credit union itself – a commitment to personalized service to members.

“As we open the doors to our first next-generation branch, we want members to recognize the familiar among the new and exciting,” Murray said. “Affinity Plus’ focus always will be on people helping people. Our members come in because they need help, and we’re always going to do that.”

OPPORTUNITIES TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Kate Austad, Affinity Plus market manager for the St. Cloud area, noted that the branch was closed all summer, and she’s grateful for members’ patience as construction progressed.

The main entrance includes a teller station, or “pod,” that eliminates the barrier between staff and members.

“We’re working together to meet members’ needs, so we felt it made sense to work in a more-natural way,” Austad said. The branch also features a meeting and gathering space for one or more members, a way to provide education and support when needed.

“We’ve served student members for a long time, and know that opportunities sometimes spring up when we can talk about financial topics,” she said. “We also know that if one student member has a question, others probably have it, too. This new branch will help us seize the moment and help our members be financially successful.”

BRANCH STRATEGY INCLUDES DIGITAL
Murray noted that the credit union’s larger strategy for the next-generation branches includes the understanding that many members are choosing to bank differently.

That may include a mix of visiting branches, using Affinity Plus’ mobile-banking app and online banking, or reaching out via phone.

“Everything about being next generation is the recognition that members want choices,” he said. “We’re giving them that and our continuing commitment to provide personalized service built around the caring, excellence and integrity that’s been our hallmark for decades.”

The credit union currently is building two new next-generation community branches: in Mankato, Minn., where it will be a partner to Affinity Plus’ branch on the Minnesota State University - Mankato campus; and in New Hope, Minn., where it will be the credit union’s first reach into the Twin Cities’ western metropolitan area.

Affinity Plus also has a St. Cloud community branch at 2835 W. St. Germain St.

As the very last details at the Atwood Memorial Center branch are completed early this week, Austad quipped that staff also are pleased that a new Caribou Coffee is their new neighbor across the hall.

“We’re counting on some wonderful aromas, and maybe a few of their customers will come over and give us a look, too,” she said.