Measure the financial well-being of members and employees

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Screenshot of the financial wellness speakers during the Inclusiv virtual conference.

Getting members and employees on the path to financial wellness is a goal for many credit unions, but figuring out how to start, measure success, and maximize the impact of a financial wellness program can be daunting. During Inclusiv’s 2021 virtual conference on Thursday, leaders of University Federal Credit Union ($ 3.7 billion, Austin, Texas) and Greylock Federal Credit Union ($ 1.4 billion, Pittsfield, Mass.) Discussed tools and strategies that they have found effective in their institutions. .

Both speakers emphasized that there is no silver bullet or one size fits all approach to implementing a financial wellness program. “It all depends on your organizational goals and priorities, and whether you want to measure multiple financial health indicators or just one,” noted Monica Andry, UFCU’s financial health program manager.

Deciding how to assess the current state of financial health of members and employees is the first step in the process. UFCU worked with the Financial Health Network, a Chicago-based nonprofit, to survey each individual on their spending, saving, borrowing and planning habits, and used the results to assign financial health scores between 1 and 100. Survey results revealed that 48% of employees were experiencing financial difficulties (with 35% “coping” and 13% “vulnerable”) and 61% members were experiencing financial difficulties (38% were defined as “coping” and 23% as “vulnerable”).

The UFCU then used the survey data to launch several small pilot programs while taking an employee-centric approach, Andry said. “We know that at the end of the day, if our employees are financially healthy, they will have new confidence and experience, and this will translate into the financial health of our members, eventually enabling us to create a platform for financial health for all. ”

One of the UFCU pilots was a microsite he developed in May 2020 in response to COVID-19, which included an online financial education center and the ability to contact staff for help concerning specific financial issues. The credit union also leveraged Inclusiv’s Pathways to Financial Empowerment advisory platform, and using data collected on both the microsite and the Pathways platform, UFCU gained insight into the financial journeys of users that it then used to adjust its approach to measuring and improving their financial health. Seeing that reducing debt and building savings was a major problem for members and employees, the UFCU also launched incentive savings campaigns.

After six months, UFCU found that program participants reduced their total debt by $ 5,697, opened 39 new loan and asset products, and took steps to repair their credit and organize their finances. “It is not one of our goals to sell products or consultancies through any means, in fact we require advisors to remain impartial and recommend many alternatives, but we have realized that as a by-product of helping the member and having their trust, they wanted to take action and use us for refinances and other products, ”Andry said.

The “why” behind a credit union’s implementation of a financial health program goes beyond improving the lives of members and employees, according to Cindy Shogry-Raimer, vice president and chief executive officer. community development of Greylock.

“Our vision is to enable our community to thrive, and financial well-being is a key indicator of that, but it also guides our strategic plan, the products we create, the services we offer, the educational topics we need. propose and even strategic community partnerships. ,” she said.

Greylock also works with the Financial Health Network to administer surveys to financial health program participants as a measurement tool, but coaching is a major goal for the credit union in its quest to improve the financial well-being of members. The coaching process begins with collecting the member’s story in order to capture the narrative of what’s going on with them financially, the goals they want to set for themselves and the things they need to fix, Shogry-Raimer said. . The stories are then shared with the staff, management and board of directors of the credit union.

“Sharing the stories with the staff has really inspired them, and I would say that over the last couple of years the staff have self-recruited, they are either talking to myself or the team and are so excited by the work that we are. by doing that, they want to become coaches, ”she said, adding that the number of Certified Credit Union Financial Advisors at Greylock is 27 and growing.

Greylock measures members’ progress along the way by looking at things like if they have $ 400 in savings for an emergency expense, how many overdrafts they’ve had, how their sharing account balances have changed, and if their credit scores have improved. Shogry-Raimer noted that 64% of coached members saw their credit score increase.

The credit cooperative also recorded its overall community impacts from 2020, notably the safeguarding of 4,000 jobs, the granting of 91 ITIN loans, the granting of nearly 4,000 deferrals and the granting of 2.5 million. dollars in emergency loans. Shogry-Raimer has encouraged other credit unions to follow similar steps – and show them off. “Do a bit of shameless self-promotion,” she said. “Put this Community Impact Report on your website, you will need it if you are applying for grants, and it can be a great report for people looking to work for you.” Additionally, members and businesses enjoy banking with financial institutions active in the community.


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