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“Consumer Financial Health Check-ups” Funded by Foundation

Thu, Nov 16, 2017

The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) recently wrapped up a year-long grant funding effort to conduct consumer financial health check-ups with the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI). This work, generously funded and supported by CUNA Mutual Group, included financial health check-ups for: Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in St. Paul, Minn.; BECU in Tukwila, Wash.; Community Financial Credit Union in Plymouth, Mich.; IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union in Moline, Ill.; University FCU in Austin, Texas; and Virginia Credit Union in Richmond, Va. 

CFSI is one of the leading organizations dealing with the subject of consumer financial health. Following the execution of the individual credit union projects, CFSI aggregated and weighted the data from the participating institutions and analyzed the combined dataset (CU sample).  

“This was a diverse set of participating credit unions with memberships ranging from under 40,000 to over 850,000,” noted Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director. “The combined survey sample size was over 28,000. The importance of this work is that we’ve known that national statistics show a real need to help consumers stabilize their finances. This work shows those same results but with credit union member populations.”

Some notable findings from the check-ups include:

  • More than half (58%) of members in the total CU sample are struggling financially;
  • Only a quarter of members are highly satisfied with their present financial situation;
  • While financial health is correlated with age and income, there are financially struggling members at all age and income levels; and
  • About half of CU sample members engage in key financially healthy behaviors, like saving and planning.

“Measuring member financial health metrics alongside business metrics enables credit unions to understand whether they are making a quantifiable difference in their members’ financial lives,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director. “This not only taps into the central mission of credit unions, but also generates insights into products and services involving members’ saving, spending, borrowing and planning behavior.” 

“The Foundation’s support enabled a diverse group of credit unions to diagnose their members’ and employees’ financial health, a key step in the financial health journey,” said Aliza Gutman, Senior Director at CFSI.  “In recognition of this work to help credit unions measure and improve member financial health, the Foundation has been recognized as a 2017 Financial Health Leader.  We look forward to continuing to collaborate to pursue our mutual objectives.” 

The Foundation will be continuing this type of work into 2018 to do more research and identify specific products that credit unions should consider to improve members’ financial health in the areas of saving, spending, borrowing and planning. 

For more information on the results, please click here. 

Added Gerry Singleton, CUNA Mutual Group Vice President of Credit Union System Relations, “Access to this information allows a credit union to purposefully design and deliver financial products that build the financial capability of consumers of all income levels. Doing so builds the economic stability of American families while providing beneficial business opportunities for credit unions.” 

For more information on innovative programs that boost financial health, join BECU and nonprofit design firm ideas42 for a webinar discussing The Financial Health Check from 1 to 2 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Nov. 16. Results from a randomized controlled trial show this one-time, 30-60-minute phone call can change savings behavior by helping credit union members leverage insights from behavioral science.