Ask Your Local Credit Union!

Happy Move Your Money month! Here at People First Economy, we know that where you hold your accounts has a BIG impact. We also know that moving your money can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Local accounts also mean local relationships, providing you the support you need to keep your dollars close to home, in your pockets and invested in positive social and environmental change.

With that in mind, we shared the most common questions our Local First Member Businesses have for credit unions with Derek Aten, Vice President SBA Lender at Lake Michigan Credit Union. Take a peek at his answers below!

Q: As a small business, how can I tap into business development services through local credit unions?

A: Simply reach out! Larger credit unions like LMCU have products and services tailored to businesses of every size, from treasury management and fraud protection to credit cards and even Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. It might surprise you just how many services and options there are that you never considered, so the best first step is to connect with the credit union’s business banking department so they can work with you to determine the best solutions for your business.


Q: What are the most underutilized services and/or best kept secrets to take advantage of at local credit unions?

A: I may be biased, but I would say the business lending services! Some may think credit unions aren’t equipped to handle business loans. However, they don’t just handle them: they can excel at them. LMCU was named 2024 International Trade Lender of the Year by the SBA, a national award recognizing our commitment to helping businesses reach their potential. In 2023, we provided more than $21 million in financing to small business exporters alone.

It’s not just small business loans, either. LMCU also offers commercial loans, so we can cover the needs of every type of business. Plus, as your business grows, we’ll be able to support you every step of the way. It’s that relationship-building that sets credit unions apart.


Q: Are ACH transfers secure? So many more invoice requests include routing number requests. How can small businesses protect their transactions?

A: Checks and ACH transfers are the preferred payment method many small businesses and vendors use. While they do include sensitive information and ACH fraud is a possibility, taking proactive steps to detect fraud is one of the best preventative measures. At LMCU, we offer several services that help you review transactions and flag any unusual or unexpected activity. A couple are Positive Pay, which allows you to easily verify and reconcile checks and ACH payments, and dual control, which requires two authorized employees to collaborate on financial transactions. Our treasury management team can work with you to determine which measures would work best for protecting your business.


Q:How can my credit union keep more dollars in my pocket (e.g. services, education, account types)?

A: Credit unions are often able to provide better rates on savings accounts and loans than banks because, as not-for-profits, their priority is providing value to their members instead of shareholders. LMCU is rated #1 for keeping more money in our members’ pockets,* so you know we take our commitment to our members seriously.

The local-first mindset of credit unions also means you’ll get personal service you may not find at larger institutions, and there may be local opportunities for businesses to network and learn what services are available to them. It also feels good knowing you are working with a financial institution invested in your community.

If you don’t currently have a credit union you are working with, find one that offers a full range of business products and services for all sizes of businesses — that way, as your business grows, your credit union has solutions to support you and save you money. Set up a meeting with a representative to discuss your business and what you could be taking advantage of today.

Derek Aten is Vice President SBA Lender at Lake Michigan Credit Union, recent recipient of the Small Business Association’s 2024 International Lender of the Year award. A Grand Rapids native, Derek works with local businesses to recommend the best course of action and assist along every step of the SBA application process. Connect with Derek and the LMCU SBA team at (616) 780-0995 or Federally insured by NCUA. *Return of the Member for credit unions above $10 billion in assets. Callahan & Associates, December 2023.

Do you have more questions for our the credit unions and community banks in our Local First network? Submit your questions and interest using our Move Your Money Pledge.

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