Every bank or credit union thinks they know their competition: other financial institutions. When making a list of competitors, the usual suspects arise, such as large national banks, other local banks/credit unions and maybe a few Internet or non-traditional sources (like check cashing services). You know who they are: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, Wal-Mart, Ace Cash Express, ING, and your local market options.

While those are indeed organizations you must battle, they are not your real competition.

Your real competition is yourself.

Your credit union or bank needs to focus on being the best it can be. Don’t try and be better than another financial institution. Be the best you. The better you are, the less competition you have.

Find a unique or lead product you can leverage. Make sure your staff is trained to the best of their ability. Improve your internal processes. Offer a product because consumers want it and not because your competitors are doing it. Develop a true value proposition that details why someone should use your institution.

Yes, you need to know your market competitors. But you need to know yourself even better. While you can’t change your competition, you can certainly change your organization.

The biggest threats to your brand are internal and not external.