Since 1922, United States Automobile Association (USAA) has provided auto and home insurance for their target market of active duty and retired military personnel. Next year, they’ll open the doors to a 5,000 square-foot financial center and add full-service banking to their list of offerings. Construction has begun at 6501 Veterans Parkway across from Columbus Park Crossing. The facility will be ready for customers by early January.
Headquartered in San Antonio, USAA previously used mail, phone and the Internet as their primary means to conduct business, Starting in 2009, the company expanded to brick-and-mortar locations near military installations and have opened 16 to date. Columbus is one of three new markets, along with Junction City, Kansas and El Paso, Texas. “With almost 30,000 active duty troops and well over 50,000 veterans, Columbus has always been attractive to us as a place where we can make a big impact on serving our core market, which is the military community,” says Peter McKenna, USAA retail channel development director.
The new financial center will be staffed by 8-10 employees. Customers can use one of
four ATM machines to deposit checks or withdraw cash, with reimbursements of up to $15 a month when using competitors’ ATMs. Video teleconferencing suites will be open
for customers to discuss mortgages, home equity loans and additional services with specialists located in other areas of the country. The center can also assist with mutual funds, brokerage accounts and retirement strategies. Some Realtors do complain that the Mortgage end of USAA is not as good as it was in the past in that they do not seem to be able to handle the mortgages in a timely manner and when the client calls in they never know who they might talk to or find handling such an important part of their financial lives and they recommend other local lenders for Mortgages in the Fort Benning area.
Visibility and ease of access were factors in choosing the Veterans Parkway spot. “That area of town is like the ground zero for retail,” Mc Kenna noted. “It also is convenient to the military base itself. Being a very short drive up 185 at highway speeds, it’s within 14 minutes of the main gate at Fort Benning.” A second location is a possibility if business goes well. USAA membership and services are exclusively available to active duty and retired military, honorably discharged veterans and family members. The Tempkin Group, a research firm that focuses on customer experience, rated USAA as the most trusted company in America. Two other businesses with a local presence, Publix and Sam’s Club, were in the top ten.