Do You Offer Financial Education for the Right Reasons?

Is your first priority to increase business or to improve members' lives?

October 04, 2010
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When it comes to financial education, what do credit unions really want to accomplish? Do you want to do what's in your members’ best interests—or the credit union’s?

James Hanson
James Hanson is vice president of CUNA's business to consumer publishing department.

The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) personal finance department recently conducted a nationwide online survey to learn more about credit union attitudes about personal finance and personal finance delivery.

Among other things, we asked respondents to list the top three member behavior goals they hoped to accomplish by providing personal finance information. We gave respondents six choices and asked them to choose their top three.

Here’s the breakdown from the 229 credit unions that responded to this statement: “Indicate your credit union’s top three member behavior goals for providing personal finance information.”

Respondents said they want to:

  • Increase use of multiple services (86%);
  • Increase borrowing (73%);
  • Increase online banking activity (53%);
  • Increase saving (32%);
  • Decrease undesirable activity, such as overdrafts and delinquencies (29%); and
  • Increase member net worth (26%).

Clearly, there’s no right or wrong answer. But isn’t it both interesting and a bit disappointing that reducing undesirable behavior and improving members’ net worth scored the lowest.

At least “increase saving” came in a paltry fourth. (I know, your credit union needs more loans not more savings.)

One could argue that each of the top three scores better serve the credit union than the member. Perhaps that’s not the best way to look at your financial education program.

Is your first priority to increase business or to improve members’ lives?

Next: Why offer financial education?

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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