Callahan & Associates' latest Internet Strategy Consortium survey reveals members will focus on saving money and reducing debt in 2010. The Consortium surveyed 10,049 online members; questions focused on members' financial goals for 2010, along with their plans for new accounts, loans, and refinancing. Results from the study underscore the opportunity for credit unions to open new accounts this year. Eight in 10 members reported interest in a new loan, a refinanced loan, or a new account in 2010.
The number of members saying they are secure (i.e, they have savings or investments) increased from 16% in 2009 to 21% in 2010; however, approximately 25% of members report being on the edge: Twenty three percent report they are just trying to cover their bills, and 3% say they are over their head.
How Can the Credit Union Help Members?
The survey asked members with a less-than-stable financial situation to identify ways their credit union could help them improve their financial situation. Member feedback indicates several opportunities for credit unions in terms of financial education and loan refinancing.
Budgeting is a problem for these members. Twenty-six percent are interested in online budgeting tools, and 14% desire budget counseling. Offering personal financial management (PFM) tools is one way the credit union can help members budget and track their expenses. Gen Y members are particularly interested in these tools, with 39% expressing interest. One stated the desire for:
"An online tool that shows where and how I spend my money: grocery stores, gas, eating out, bills, etc."
Twenty percent of respondents are interested in consolidating credit card debt, indicating some members are struggling in this area. One respondent said:
"Help with credit card debt would allow my savings goals to be met."
Mortgage loan refinancing is another opportunity for the credit union to help members, as 13% of respondents indicated an interest in refinancing a mortgage from another financial institution. A respondent suggested one way to incentivize refinancing:
"Reduce my monthly mortgage payments without requiring upfront money."
As recession fallout – such as unemployment and wage reductions – impacts members, the credit union should offer tools to help its members improve their finances. According to survey feedback, many members are uncertain as to how their credit union can help them. So credit unions also need to ensure those programs are effectively marketed.