To recruit younger members from the Southeast Wyoming and Northern Colorado communities it serves, Warren Federal Credit Union ($546.6M, Cheyenne, WY) has found it beneficial to embrace its motto: What matters to you, matters to us!
“We are huge supporters of community events and do a lot of outreach in the local schools,” says Michele Bolkovatz, community relations manager.
But beyond sponsoring 5Ks and charitable activities, the credit union uses financial literacy to give back to the community.
CU QUICK FACTS
Warren federal credit union
data as of 03.31.15
HQ: Cheyenne, WY
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 8.55%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.96%
Boklovatz knows firsthand the types of activities that resonate with younger members. When her two daughters made a presentation to their senior math class on the differences between banks versus credit unions, they armed themselves with rate and fee schedules to compare the value of Warren FCU against local banks. On the surface, the teens helped spread the word about Warren FCU, but at the core these young consumers taught their peers about the importance of comparing options.
According to Boklovatz, a high school audience member shared his own experiences of visiting the branch to withdraw spending money for the weekend and picking up cookies and a hot chocolate while he was there.
“The little things we’re doing — even just offering cookies and hot chocolate at our branch — make a big difference to these young people,” Boklovatz says.
Small perks help financial institutions build relationships with new, often younger, members. Financial education is another major way to do that.
“Gen Y members want good technology, but only after you’ve developed a relationship with them,” says Mindy Peep, Warren’s marketing manager. “Education on money management is one of the most influential things that drives our younger population.”
Warren FCU eschews the stereotype of massive numbers of young adults living in their parents’ basement. Instead, it treats its younger members with respect and takes the time to listen to what they really need, not what the credit union thinks they need.
“The credit union wants to partner with others who share the same core values, and aligning with universities is a perfect fit,” Bolkovatz says in regard to Warren’s partnerships with Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming.
Warren FCU is the exclusive credit union of the CSU athletics department, and both employees as well as student athletes can join. In addition to offering products like checking accounts, reloadable debit cards, and certificates — which all help accountholders better manage their money — the credit union helps prepare student athletes for life after college by focusing on money management skills.
“Right now we’re teaching a course on how to establish positive banking relationships, avoid high fees, and build strong credit histories,” Bolkovatz says.
That course is currently for juniors only, but the credit union would like to get in earlier when the athletes are freshmen.
At the University of Wyoming, the credit union is in the beginning phases of a new partnership. Luckily, a group of young finance and accounting majors there already recognize how badly their fellow students need financial education. This group of students and the credit union developed a “cash cab” that gives students a ride across campus in a golf cart if they correctly answer a financial literacy question.
The credit union wants to partner with others who share the same core values, and aligning with universities is a perfect fit.
The cash cab makes financial literacy fun and interactive, but the credit union’s activities are not limited to colleges.
“Our community events include everything from face painting and super hero capes to bringing in guest speakers during our annual meeting,” Peep says.
This year’s annual meeting and member appreciation event took place on June 18. Phroogal founder Jason Vitug stopped by as part of the Road to Financial Wellness road trip, and the young entrepreneur spoke to members about how they could take control of their financial lives and live their dream lifestyles.
The credit union’s efforts to develop relationships with younger members are paying off. According to data from Raddon’s CEO Strategies Group, when it comes to increasing the Gen Y segment of its membership, Warren FCU is in the 98th percentile for credit unions in its peer group.
Data and statistics are a great way to measure the credit union’s progress, but it’s the everyday actions and attitudes of credit union employees that drive the bottom line.
“We don’t judge members based on what they look like,” Peep says. “We want to listen and help. We want to make people feel comfortable talking with us about their financial options.”