A Strategy To Help Members Magnify Their Money

A coaching program at Wright-Patt Credit Union teaches members how to be responsible with money while enjoying life.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • A new program at Wright-Patt Credit Union helps members achieve goals and manage money.
  • Training for the coaches is as central to the program as evaluation tools and financial plans.

CU QUICK FACTS

Wright-Patt Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.18

HQ: Beavercreek, OH
ASSETS: $4.4B
MEMBERS: 380,255
BRANCHES: 32
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 11.0%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 16.7%
ROA: 1.33%

Wright-Patt Credit Union ($4.4B, Beavercreek, OH) has undertaken an aggressive, comprehensive initiative to boost the financial wellness of its members and people who the big Ohio credit union would like to make members.

Called Financial Flexibility and Freedom, the effort includes products and services the credit union has long provided — such as money management campaigns and re-financing offers — as well as something entirely new — the MoneyMagnifier coaching program.

Under that program, the 32-branch financial cooperative is training and deploying what it calls “member center financial coaches” to instruct members on: 

  • What their current financial position looks like.
  • How to modify their course, if needed.
  • How to plan for future opportunities and/or inevitable challenges. 

The MoneyMagnifier program and the umbrella Financial Flexibility and Freedom initiative are  a product of the Dayton, OH, credit union’s partnership with the Center for Financial Services Innovation. Here, Tracy Szarzi-Fors, vice president of marketing and development at WPCU, dishes on the details of the programs.

Tracy Szarzi-Fors, VP of Marketing and Developmemt, Wright-Patt Credit Union

What is the MoneyMagnifier program?

Tracy Szarzi-Fors: MoneyMagnifier is in-person, one-on-one coaching that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours based on a member’s situation.

The program includes an eight-question financial questionnaire — an assessment tool created through our partnership with CFSI. The tool generates an overall MoneyMagnifier score along with sub scores in categories that align with our four pillars: save, spend, borrow, and plan. 

Financial coaches help members outline a financial plan based on their needs, goals, and life stage. Coaches use the MoneyMagnifier sub scores to recommend specific products and services based on several save, spend, borrow, and plan scoring scenarios. The plan can include refinance options, savings plans, referrals, and budget creation as well as financial education based on the member’s personal situation. 

The member walks away with a plan to get to the next step in their financial journey, and follow-up appointments by phone or in person ensure they have taken the steps outlined in their plan. Coaches give the MoneyMagnifier questionnaire to the member again after six months to see if and what progress they’ve made.

How many coaches do you have? Describe the training process.

TS: We have approximately 20 financial coaches who have been trained as MoneyMagnifier coaches. The training is a full-day session with a lot of follow-up interactions. We selected staff who were already strong coaches — we simply added a new layer and included a lot of emotional intelligence components. We also observe our coaches and offer weekly tips. 

We’re in the process of integrating this throughout the rest of the credit union, which will be a “lite” version that also will use our four pillars of save, spend/manage, borrow, and plan.

How will the credit union track the progress and measure the success of these efforts?

TS: There are many KPIs. Surveys, Net Promoter Score, member engagement, and strategic member relationship measures in addition to fewer members using check cashing facilities and courtesy pay or paying non-sufficient funds and late loan fees, just to name a few. We’re using all of the above and more. 

The MoneyMagnifier placemat provides an engagement roadmap for Wright-Patt Credit Union’s financial coaches. Click here to download the PDF.

What’s the Financial Flexibility and Freedom program that underlies WPCU’s MoneyMagnifier effort?

TS: I wouldn’t say it’s a program; it’s more of a way of life here at the credit union. It’s an evolution of our culture and provides a guiding North Star. 

We’ve always been an organization that helps members through life. We’ve developed products, services, and marketing campaigns to represent this approach — showcasing how WPCU takes care of people so they’re better off today and tomorrow. 

A few years ago, “financial health” and “financial wellness” became buzz words, and now there are a lot of organizations trying to create a culture that personifies a more holistic approach to taking care of their members and customers.  

We were already doing that, we just didn’t articulate it in those terms, which seem very clinical. We wanted something more pleasant sounding and less prescriptive. The words “financial flexibility and freedom” together address both the need to be responsible with money and the desire to use money in service of a less stressful, more enjoyable and fulfilling life. 

What role does the financial flexibility and freedom concept play in the wellness strategies you already had in place?

TS: It sets the framework and foundation for member engagement. This includes product and service development, training, service delivery, marketing, and community involvement. It’s becoming part of our brand and is considered in our strategy and execution. 

 

 

 

Who came up with the wording and concepts? 

TS: We had a team of internal folks, plus a few people at our agency. It took a while for us to come to a phrase that worked well for what we are trying to accomplish. 

What national and local statistics and other data did you use to help frame the issue?

TS: We started with some CFSI research and then surveyed our membership and employees — and had some qualitative discussions with them — to get a pulse on their financial well-being. We used other national information, too.  

The MoneyMagnifier and other documents from WPCU’s financial wellness program are available to subscribers of the Callahan Policy Exchange. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Get rolling on important initiatives using documents, policies, and templates borrowed from fellow credit unions.

What risks do you take on in these efforts, and how do you mitigate them?

TS: I don’t believe there are any risks to coaching members. I do believe hiring right is critical. Member-facing staff should have a passion for helping members. If not, the value proposition of your credit union won’t work. So, I would advise credit unions hire people that want to help members.

What other advice would you offer about having meaningful conversations with members around financial wellness?

TS: Having meaningful conversations with people that are not always comfortable talking about their financial situation means you can’t sell. It means you’re thoughtful, empathetic, and truly want to ensure members are getting good help and solid direction. 

Make this fit your culture. Spend a lot of time upfront determining what that looks like for your members and organization. Many people are fast to execute and slow to plan and research. Take the time to research and plan — to orient stakeholders with what your organization’s path should look like — and be agile enough to try a few pilots to get additional insights. 

Having a strategic plan in place and everyone on board is also key to success. It keeps you focused. 

Bottom line: Why does WPCU do all this?

TS: Our financial wellness work aligns with our mission. It helps people get ahead. If they’re healthy and better off, they will tell others. As a result, the credit union is better off. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Give Members Financial Freedom

Join Callahan & Associates and Tracy Szarzi-Fors, vice president of marketing and business development at Wright-Patt, for an interactive discussion about MoneyMagnifier and how the credit union is helping members create actionable plans to achieve financial flexibility and freedom.

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March 4, 2019


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