First Trust Credit Union cultivates culture of trust to empower members

First Trust Credit Union cultivates culture of trust to empower members

With finances impacting nearly every facet of life, finding someone to trust with those finances takes thorough consideration. Finding a financial organization that cares about your needs and goals is a crucial element in deciding who to entrust with your money. First Trust Credit Union Marketing Director Dorene Martinson shared that this is why credit unions take a people-first approach to finance.

First Trust takes pride in the credit union philosophy of People Helping People and works to get to know its members on a personal level. This entails getting to know members on a first-name basis at all four branches, and taking a sincere interest in their financial health and in their lives in general.

“We strive to partner with our members and make them feel like they're part of our family. First Trust can offer them the relationship they need to trust us with their financial needs and decisions. That's a significant trait that credit unions possess; we have that hometown feel,” Martinson said. “We're about people helping people and developing personal relationships with our members to make sure they have that friendly feeling when they walk in our doors.”

Cultivating a culture of trust goes beyond conversations between the credit union and its members. Credit union profits go back to its members rather than going to shareholders, as it would at a bank.

“We’re not for profit; we’re for service,” Martinson said. “The key factor is that credit unions are overseen by a volunteer board of directors, whereas banks are overseen by shareholders at the top of their organization. We're not looking to make a profit to pay shareholders. We're looking to take our profits and give those back to our members (account holders) in the way of no fees or lower fees than other financial institutions may be charging. Respectfully, we are then able to also offer members more affordable rates on loans as well.”

This volunteer board of directors is composed of and elected by credit union members who are dedicated to giving as much back to members as possible. The only requirements for membership (opening an account) are living or working in one of First Trust’s counties of membership, and opening a savings account with a minimum deposit of $25. These counties of membership include La Porte, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski counties.

All account funds are protected via the National Credit Union Administration for up to $250,000, which is standard for protection for credit unions. First Trust provides additional insurance coverage on accounts through Excess Share Insurance, meaning First Trust purchases an additional $250,000 per person’s account. In total, First Trust accounts are insured for up to $500,000 to protect members’ finances and peace of mind.

Martinson revealed that there are misconceptions in regard to who can become a member of a credit union.  Many people believe they have to be a teacher, work in healthcare, or be part of a union to qualify for membership, therefore educating the public how credit unions truly function has been an obstacle credit unions have worked to overcome. Educating its communities has helped First Trust grow its membership steadily over the years.

Educating people about credit unions requires a definitive community presence. The desire to teach the community, deepen member relationships, staying true to its philosophy of people helping people, and giving back to the community fuels First Trust to get involved within its surrounding communities.

“We're very involved in efforts to give back to the community because that's what we are all about,” Martinson said. “This also gives us an opportunity to talk to people about credit unions and what First Trust has to offer. Whether it be serving our members every day on our teller lines, or working with our annual charity partners to fundraise much needed donations, we get involved. We do several things throughout the year to give back, and to grow our presence within the communities we serve.”

First Trust is always working to build credit union awareness, and striving to be a financial institution where account holders can feel safe and secure.

For more information about First Trust Credit Union, visit