International Credit Union Day: 4 credit unions that are leading the way with financial education

International Credit Union Day

 

It’s International Credit Union Day – held on the third Thursday of every October since 1948 – and all of us at EVERFI want to recognize our credit union partners with a nod to this year’s theme of “Dreams Thrive Here.” In celebrating the ways that credit unions help members achieve big goals in life, today we take a look at how four institutions are successfully using financial education to pursue that mission.

Community First Credit Union, Jacksonville, Fla.

Online education modules secure record-breaking, long-term outcomes

When in-person financial education classes produced only fair results, this $1.5-billion-asset institution turned to a completely customizable, digital platform to better reach its more than 122,000 members in 18 locations.

Called “moveUP,” Community First’s financial wellness program – created by EVERFI – enabled a much broader training platform to help improve the financial health of its large membership base.

Through 22 educational modules on topics ranging from auto loans to mortgages, Community First realized a succession of enviable results during the six-week program lifecycle: a one-day record number of new accounts opened upon program launch, and the biggest rise in unsecured personal loans issued – a 41% increase over the previous year.

Ultimately, says Jonathan Hanson, Community First’s Product Manager, this program aims directly at fulfilling one of the credit union’s core goals: “Together with EVERFI, we’re building a pipeline of potentially credit-worthy new members for the future.”


University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union
, Lexington, Ken.

Digitally-driven content focus drives Millennial participation

To connect with its younger members and help this wired generation grow its financial knowledge, the credit union partnered with EVERFI to design on-demand, online education modules centered around video content that can be viewed from anywhere and from any device – be it laptop or smartphone.

This digital marketing initiative enables the 80-year-old financial cooperative to significantly strengthen its appeal to the modern Millennial market it serves. Case in point: Because auto loans represent a large sales driver for this community, UKFCU tied completion of the training modules it offers to an interest-rate discount on new auto loans. This strategy pulled in one out of every three website visitors and led to an impressive 87% education module completion rate.

“For those of us working closely with universities and student populations, being able to combine the right content with the right vehicle for communicating that content is crucial,” explains Carol Carr, the credit union’s Financial Education Specialist, adding that the next level calls for adding programming to other digital channels, such as email and social media. “It’s so important for our credit union to provide accurate financial education so that members can know that they’re in good hands.”

 

USAlliance Federal Credit Union, Rye. N.Y.

Tailor-made financial education partnership serves diverse needs 

With a membership reach that spans the Northeast Corridor, USAlliance FCU serves a wide-ranging community – including corporate employees and public service workers. Because of that diversity, the $1+billion-asset institution needed a well-leveraged, financial education solution that’s more deeply customized than just any off-the-shelf vendor program.

Working with EVERFI, the 90,000-member credit union was able to fine-tune the financial-education experience it needed to deliver – matching members with modules that fit their personal interests and life needs. Strategies involved integrating email campaigns with specific content that members previously viewed or downloaded, and linking financial products or offers based on the module topic completed.

Six months after the EVERFI-powered launch, the credit union’s “Financial Wellness Center” program was a hit, attracting 10,000 customers who completed more than 5,000 modules. Most importantly, says Tori Burton, the institution’s Marketing Vice President, the EVERFI partnership allows USAlliance FCU to provide the unique value inherent in its mission.

“We want to help our members live life fully,” she says, “and that means equipping them with tools and knowledge to better manage their finances. We needed someone to grasp what made our members tick, and they [EVERFI] just ‘got it.’ ”

 

Pacific Service Credit Union, Concord, Calif.

Quick-to-launch rollout delivers fast-track results

To inspire its 70,000 members with an easy-to-use education that would empower them to make better financial decisions, Pacific Service CU wanted to take advantage of Financial Literacy Month last April to introduce a brand new skill-building strategy.

Thanks to EVERFI’s digital education technology, a seamless launch allowed the $1+billion-asset credit union to meet that key timeline with a four-module rollout on topics ranging from credit cards to identity protection to retirement planning. Branded under the name “Take Charge of Your Finances,” the incentivized program was advertised with ads and alerts throughout the credit union’s website, as well as promoted on social media.

Notably, Pacific Service CU’s email campaign led the list of fast-track results, achieving a 30% open rate – 50% higher than industry standards. After only six weeks, more than 2,000 customers had “taken charge” by completing the education modules – and the institution attracted more than 1,200 member enrollments.

Pacific Service CU Marketing Director Bryan Lyons sums up the success with this simple, but far-reaching message: “The more our members know, the better their decisions will be, and the more prosperous their futures will be.”

 

Interested in learning more about the financial education programs that brought these credit unions a new level of member outreach? Request an EVERFI demo at https://EVERFI.com/webcontact-us-form/

 

National Savings Day: 5 Ways that Financial Institutions Can Help Accountholders

Today, October 12th is National Savings Day and we want to highlight some troublesome facts: Americans are falling short when it comes to rainy day funds. According to a recent Bankrate Financial Security Index, 24% of adults – and 25% of Millennials – say they have no money saved for an emergency like a layoff or a medical bill. On top of that, just 31% of adults and 23% of Millennials have what’s considered an adequate savings cushion: enough to cover six months’ worth of unanticipated expenses.

National Savings Day represents a great opportunity to think about your institution’s strategies and how they can be geared towards helping consumers save more effectively. Here are five ways that your financial institution can help accountholders build their savings:

  1. Incentivize savings accounts. Cash perks, rate bonuses, gift cards or prize-linked account features are powerful tools to attract new accounts and help retain existing ones – and they incentivize positive saving behaviors, as well. Kick it up a notch by rewarding your customers for taking proactive steps to opening a savings account, making consecutive deposits, or not withdrawing funds for a period of time.
  2. Reach out to Millennials in new ways. These digital natives gravitate toward mobile-banking apps that help them do the right thing – from analyzing daily spending and savings targets to setting up savings buckets where they can allot cash for big-ticket plans, like a car or a trip. These user-friendly tools also can link to social networks, where reminders and visual representations of their progress can be shared. Streamlining your posting of targeted savings messages across multiple platforms covers all the bases. Smart, visual aesthetics – whether they are graphic illustrations or short videos – will engage Millennials and demonstrate how your institution is different when it comes to partnering in savings.
  3. Implement a financial education program. Helping customers learn about savings options that may work best for them should be a cornerstone of any financial institution’s marketing strategy. In fact, a recent EVERFI survey found that 89% of banks and credit unions rely on financial education as a part of their digital marketing strategy, while 45% plan to increase their budget in this area. To be effective, financial education must meet a current need and must reach accountholders at appropriate milestones, as they make important life decisions – online learning programs are the way to do this effectively. Quick, relevant lessons on savings topics that resonate with the community you serve can secure trusted relationships – and ultimately encourage long-term savers within your product array.
  4. Train employees to talk about savings with customers. 60% of great banking experiences are due to great staff, and 46% of your customers will rely on your employees to select products for them, according to PwC’s Retail Banking 2020 report. That’s why a firm grasp of savings product knowledge and an ability to assess accountholder financial status are critical skills for staff to possess. If a customer has a high cash balance on a checking account, for example, your associate could cross-sell a high-yield savings account or certificate-of-deposit. Along with inspiring accountholder savings, these types of personalized, relationship-building methods can boost your institution’s wallet share – earning more of each customer’s total business by guiding them to more effective savings products.
  5. Publicize automatic savings options. Automatic funds transfer programs offer an effortless way to build savings, yet only 40% of Americans participate in automatic savings outside of work. Perhaps that’s why the FDIC annually reminds financial institutions to promote this simple savings strategy. Provide options for customers to set up recurring transfers from checking accounts to savings accounts, and then take the idea one step further with a “spare change” program. These programs round up debit card purchases to the nearest dollar amount and transfer the difference into a savings account. Boost the habit even more by offering rewards – typically a percentage of the amount rounded up (with an annual cap).

National Savings Day is a great day to reflect on how your financial institution can continue the good work you have already started. Getting consumers to think about their savings potential – how much they can realistically set aside each month after essential expenses – leads to positive action that helps build up the personal financial reserves they need. Having digital financial education programs and mobile app tools available to educate accountholders about savings – will also have a benefit of savvier and more invested customers. Learn more about how your institution can help customers build financial capability and reach consumers in meaningful ways with EVERFI’s Financial Capability Network.

Equifax Breach

Equifax Breach: How Consumer Education Can Help

Equifax Breach
On September 9, 2017, we all saw the Equifax breach make headlines, and then the unfortunate follow up and backlash.  Up to 143 million Americans have had their private data hacked, including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. This incident is being called the biggest hack in history. Security experts around the world derided Equifax’s security protection, as well as its response to the incident. Leading security researcher/blogger Brian Krebs noted, “I cannot recall a previous data breach in which the breached company’s public outreach and response have been so haphazard and ill-conceived as the one coming right now from big-three credit bureau Equifax.”
 
Clearly, we should not tolerate Equifax’s security model that has allowed for the breach to occur. And I cannot in good conscience defend their response: they allegedly waited months to report the hack, they suggested that consumers sign up for a credit monitoring services that included a confusing user agreement where consumers might waive their right to a future class action lawsuit, and they also disclosed that senior executives sold Equifax stock just after the breach occurred but before it was announced to the public.
That being said, while locking down corporate security is hard, I would suggest that informing consumers exactly what to do after a hack is even harder. So letting consumers know what to do is very tricky to get right.

We see that a consumer’s anxiety is ultimately rooted in a lack of knowledge. We all know that we fear what we do not understand. Given the complexity of technology, the mystery of how this happens, and lack of information in general, cyber crime is an especially scary topic for most Americans.  Ultimately, consumers need clear and easy-to-understand information that explains what a security breach is such as the Equifax breach, what to do when you are a victim of a hack, and how to protect yourself in the future.

Consumers need to have education about identity protection and need to have it delivered just-in-time when these events occur.  If you are an employee of a bank or credit union, your institution is probably already pushing out at least some communication and information about the Equifax breach.  But make sure this communication includes clear and jargon-free education with suggested next steps.

Providing education on security breaches and identity theft will shine a light on this topic.

Update from the Financial Capability Network

Financial Capability Network

 

This July, EVERFI’s Financial Capability Network had another intimate invite-only event that convened a diverse set of industry leaders to discuss strategies and best practices for improving the financial capability of people of all ages. The event took place in San Diego, CA, and featured keynotes by Gov. Frank Keating and the former CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable Steve Bartlett.

The event also had many productive and informative speaking panels featuring industry experts.  There were deep-dives into how banks approach CRA efforts, sharing of advice and best practices, as well as research opportunities around financial education. It’s hard to come up with they key takeaways – since there were so many meaningful discussions – but here is our list of the top insights:
  •  Relationships aren’t just the “biggest thing” that matters, they are the ONLY thing!  We spent time talking about relationships with customers, with community, and even with your CRA regulator.  Furthermore, there was definitely some bonding between attendees.  These industry-peer relationships – most of whom do not often get to share ideas – became immediately valuable.
  • Community = Business Growth.  For some reason, Community Development sometimes lives in its own corner of financial institutions, and is not seen as critical to the growth of the institution.  This does not make sense.  Community Development is part of that growth, and investments in community are investments in a financial institution’s future.
  • The power of the Network.  Many financial institutions are tackling difficult problems all on their own.  If we work together as an industry, it is obvious that we can accomplish so much more.  The whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts.
These events are a critical part of the Financial Capability Network – they really make the network come to life. If you would like to learn more about the Financial Capability Network, you can read more here: https://everfi.com/fcn

The Importance of Financial Digital Marketing

Technology has changed the way financial institutions interact with consumers. Over the years, in-store visits to banks have decreased from more than two dozen to roughly three visits per year.  This trend encourages financial institutions like yours to find innovative ways to stay in touch with the consumers who’ve embraced the digital age. This means it’s more important than ever for your financial institution to implement a digital marketing strategy.

How to Start the Digital Conversation

The digital age allows  your financial institutions to stay in constant communication with consumers. In order to create a strong presence, your financial institutions must use content to establish expertise with your targeted audience. Consumers want to receive insights, increase their knowledge on financial literacy, attend webinars; read blogs and case studies. If you work on getting started with one of these digital marketing techniques you will create trust between your financial institution and the consumer.

Digital marketing would also allow your financial institutions to set measurable goals and find ways to successfully achieve those goals. After getting buy in from executives and setting measurable goals it’s time to build the foundation and start executing your plans by:

  • Reaching Your Audience
    There are plenty of channels that your financial institution can use to reach your targeted audience. Some of those channels include email marketing, website marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, paid social media, and blogging. Choosing one or two to get started with will enable you to reach more of your consumers.
  • Driving Engagement with Financial Education
    Engaging with your audience through of financial education has a lot of benefits. Not only can your financial institution show off their expertise, but also your company can learn about their target audience and take them on a new journey with your financial institution. 
  • Tracking & Maintaining Engagement
    Once your financial institution has engaged with your targeted audience, it is important to track and maintain the results. By doing so, this allows your financial institution to pull insights, create data and find new ways how to interact with your new targeted audience.

To learn more about digital marketing  and best practices join us for our upcoming webinar on July 20th 1PM EST on The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing. If you can’t join us for the webinar check out the guidebooks that started it all, The Ultimate Guide to Financial Digital Marketing.

Modernizing the CRA Under Trump

CRA

96% of Community Reinvestment Act Officers have financial education as part of their current CRA strategy. Our Community Reinvestment and the Role of Financial Education Survey Results review CRA officers’ strategies for achieving CRA’s compliance and community relations objectives.

The Treasury Department has given financial institutions an indication of what may change for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) under the Trump administration. Considering firms have not seen this level of proposed change to the CRA in a while, it suggests the Treasury Department (“Department”) is serious.

In an extensive report, Secretary Mnuchin describes the status quo of banks, their problems, and possible solutions. Updating the CRA is one solution that can be a “response to the real risks that American consumers and the American economy face.” While this report is not official, meaning it doesn’t change any laws or guidance, it provides touch-points that banks should already be on top of: streamlining examinations, leveraging technology and impact, and how banks can prepare.

Streamlined Examinations

The Department plans to change how regulators examine banks. The long stretches of time between bank examinations constrains banks’ abilities to grow, i.e., mergers and branch openings. Additionally, the standards and processes used by different regulators are not fully aligned. They are also outdated. Interagency guidance about the CRA, published in 2016, recognizes that technology can be a factor in evaluating retail banking services, and indicates that the agencies will consider “new methods as technology evolves.”

As a result, the Department seeks “improvement in the regulatory review and rating assessment process, which would consider the frequency of examinations, the ability of institutions to remediate ratings, and the transparency of how the overall CRA assessment rating is determined.”

Technology and Impact

Examinations should better consider technology as banks increasingly “use technology, such as automated and online offerings, to extend services outside of physical branches,” according to the Department. Particularly, the Department would like to consider assessment areas in communities based on “the changing nature of technology.”

Measurement of impact will be more of a factor as well. This is a sign that impact should not just be relegated to particular zip codes, counties, or areas. It should cross state and local borders. “While all three prudential regulators are involved in checking CRA compliance, none are responsible for evaluating how well the CRA accomplishes its mission.” This is a problem, as guidance indicates that “assessments will depend on the impact of a particular activity on community needs and the benefits received by a community.” Indeed, firms can get additional CRA credit for showing impact. This is likely why the Treasury Department wants CRA investments to be “measured to improve their benefit to communities.” If firms are not measuring the impact of their community development efforts, they should be.

Next Steps

It is unclear how fast the Department will move, as it may wait for approval by the President. At least, the Department “will include soliciting input from individual consumer advocates and other stakeholders.” So while the CRA will generally stay the same for the time being, EY warns the banking industry that uncertainty is no excuse for inaction. It suggests that banks “harness and embrace technology to meaningfully reduce costs and risks and improve agility.” Better yet, banks that incorporate responsible technology into their CRA programs can also help bring fintech, and their products, to the masses.  

Preventing Elder Financial Abuse: Financial Institutions can help

As the baby boomer population quickly becomes the largest senior demographic in American history, it is increasingly difficult for them to keep keeping their hard-earned investments safe. One study says that over $36 billion – with a “b” – is lost each year by preying on seniors.  And there are certainly plenty of scams out there targeting the elderly: roofing scams, Medicare scams, tech support scams, and scams for reverse mortgages. Shockingly, allegedly half of the financial abuse targeting the elderly comes from within a senior’s own family. This type of preying on the elderly is known as “elder financial abuse,” and financial institutions are on the front lines to help make a dent in this growing problem.

Certainly financial institutions already deal with this problem, especially within the branch.  Sometimes a bank or credit union teller needs to expand their role and act as a social worker, family counselor, and banker all in one.  But this is a lot to ask of a front-line teller.  Furthermore, the regulatory landscape in this space is changing, and as awareness of senior scams increases, so will regulatory pressure on financial institutions.

Employees of financial institutions need help.

Furthermore, boomers and their caregivers also need help.  There are literally call centers out there that systematically target seniors on the phone to scam them.  If one person does not fall for the scam, the call center just hangs up and calls the next victim.  It is disgusting, but unfortunately works. They prey on the uninformed. That’s why education and awareness about common scams, and how to handle them, can help shut these call centers down.

Family members of the elderly also need help. They need to know how to navigate very tricky questions about who manages parents’ finances over time.  They need to know what to watch out for. And again: since half of the abuse happens within the family, families need to know what to do in those extremely embarrassing and difficult situations where the problem is not an external scammer, but inside the family itself.

While not the only strategy to help combat elder financial abuse, education and awareness is a big part of the solution. And financial institutions – as a pillar of the local community they serve – can be a trusted source of this education.  FIs need help in order to help.

As the baby boomers age, the problem of financial elder abuse is not going to go away. For banks and credit unions that want to protect their customers, the time to take active steps is now. For more information on how to create a program to prevent financial elder abuse, please request a demo.

Keeping Baby Boomers Financially Secure

Financial Elder Abuse

How and why financial institutions can help

As the baby boomer population quickly becomes the largest senior demographic in American history, there is a growing concern about keeping their hard-earned investments safe. According to a recent report, the U.S. senior community loses an astonishing $53 billion annually to both fraudulent and deceptive practices.[1] This type of preying on the elderly is known as “elder financial abuse,” and financial institutions are in the perfect position to help. First, let’s look at the three types of financial elder abuse:

  • Financial Exploitation
    This type of exploitation is legal but highly unethical, and consists of deceiving or convincing seniors to make poor financial decisions or give their money away.
  • Criminal Fraud
    This type of activity is clearly illegal, and includes identity theft and mail fraud.
  • Caregiver Abuse
    This refers to financial theft or deception by someone trusted—whether it be a family member, healthcare worker, or even a financial manager.

How banks and credit unions can help

As institutions that have built long-term relationships with seniors and their children, banks and credit unions are perfectly positioned to help stem the tide of financial elder abuse. But how to do so? Financial education is a big part of the solution. Both elders and their caregivers feel confident that the information they receive from their bank or credit union is both honest and understandable—but getting the information to them can be a challenge.

In the digital age, where some seniors may be housebound but accustomed to surfing the Web, while others might feel more comfortable visiting their local branch, financial education must be a two-pronged approach. The first prong includes providing digital programming that can be accessed by boomers and their children—anywhere, anytime. The second prong focuses on the branch level, and includes training employees and providing relevant print materials. As the baby boomers age, the problem of financial elder abuse is not going to go away.

[1] Study: The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015 Executive Summary. (January, 2015). Retrieved January 20, 2017, from https://www.truelinkfinancial.com/news/true-link-releases-latest-elder-financial-abuse-findings-losses-discovered-to-be-much-worse-than-originally-thought

Financial Education Program Online

4 Elements of an Effective Financial Education Program

Young Adult at Computer

Recent studies have shown that young people are growing up without adequate financial education, and banks, credit unions, and employers have been stepping in to fill this gap. But as a corporation or financial institution, how can you be sure that the financial education program you choose is an effective one? Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has laid out guidelines for what makes an effective financial education program.[1] Here’s what to look for:

  1. Content
    How strong is the content of the program, and what topics does the program cover? Ideally, a financial education program should cover a wide range of topics, including spending, saving, investing, credit, and money management. Also look for programs that speak to different life stages and employ age-appropriate methods and technologies.
  2. Utility
    Is the program easy to use—for both students and administrators? Is it available in other languages? Look for programs that can be accessed by multiple demographics and age groups, and on a range of devices, including computers, phones, and tablets.
  3. Quality
    Explore the quality of the program. How deep is the subject matter? Where are the facts coming from? And is it based on the most recent research in the field?
  4. Efficacy
    Perhaps most importantly, how do you know that the program is effective? A reputable financial education program should be able to demonstrate that students’ knowledge increases after taking the course. Look for programs that not only measure and document student progress, but also can show success after doing so in the past.

There are many financial education programs available in the marketplace, but not all of them are created equal. When you’re evaluating a new program, these four critical elements will ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.

[1] Report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Youth Financial Education Curriculum Review. (October 2015). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201509_cfpb_youth-financialeducation-curriculum-review.pdf

Financial Education in Elementary School

Financial Education for Younger Kids

As financial institutions and employers watch the twenty-something generation struggle with money matters, there has been much talk about the importance of financial education for young people. But how young should you start?

A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers compelling reasons for starting financial literacy education for children as early as elementary school.[1] According to the report, childhood financial attitudes, habits, and norms begin to develop between ages 6-12. Teaching children heathy money habits at this age can have lasting effects, setting them up for a lifetime of financial success. In specific, CFPB recommends focusing on two primary areas in elementary school:

  1. Financial Habits and Norms
    We already know that children learn social and cultural behaviors at a young age, by observing the behaviors and attitudes of the people around them. According to the CFPB, financial behavior is no different. The report argues that “the values, standards, routine practices, and rules of thumb used to routinely navigate our day-to-day financial lives” can—and should—also be taught to young children. In practical terms, this means that children who are exposed to healthy financial habits at a young age tend to grow up to be adults who also have healthy financial habits.
  2. Financial Knowledge and Decision-Making Skills
    Beyond socialization, kids also have the ability to start learning concrete financial skills at a young age. The CFPB notes that “skillful money management, financial planning, goal setting, and financial research” are among the hands-on skills that must be taught in order for children to have a healthy financial foundation. For example, teaching elementary-aged kids about saving money, managing a basic budget, comparison shopping, and setting money goals are skills that will last a lifetime, and will give them the financial confidence and knowledge needed to grasp more complex financial topics at a later age.

The financial world that our children will inherit is an increasingly complex one. In an age of online shopping, digital payments, global trading, and sometimes deceptive lending, we need to set up our children for success—and this means teaching them solid financial habits and skills at a young age. To learn more about family financial capability and examine how it can help inform your consumer financial education solutions download our guide.

 

[1]Study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Building blocks to help youth achieve financial capability. (September 2016). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/092016_cfpb_BuildingBlocksReport_ModelAndRecommendations_web.pdf