Banking: Big Little Lenders

Formerly sleepy credit unions are getting a makeover and help from regulators--and are taking business from banks

Robert Kerley used to keep his money with a big national bank, and every time he visited his branch, he felt like a walking account number. Tellers rarely greeted him by name, as he had come to expect in Winona, Minn., a town of 27,000 where people tend to know one another. And despite being a longtime customer, he would be fingerprinted with invisible ink when he wanted to make multiple transactions.

A supervisor at a small electronics firm, Kerley, 42, was looking for a homier bank when his teenage son told him about a community credit union called Affinity Plus....

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