Members Express Need for Online Financial Planning Information

Many members – even internet-savvy online members – need some additional help to take steps toward improve their financial futures.


Online members are generally considered to be more knowledgeable about financial services, but a recent survey conducted by Callahan’s Internet Strategy Consortium revealed that online members would like better education and guidance from their credit union. According to the survey, two-thirds of online members say they have started their retirement planning, but many are unsure if they are doing the right thing. Even more are interested in basic financial education at the beginner level.

What type of information do online users want?

Online members are interested in using a wide range of tools on the credit union website, including interactive education as well as tools to conduct research and manage investments. Members expressed a desire for additional information on a wide range of topics, based on their knowledge levels. As shown below, the top information categories overall are estimating retirement needs (37%), minimizing taxes (34%), learning the basics (32%), and evaluating their existing savings/retirement plan (30%).

But responses varied based on the member’s knowledge. For example, beginning investors are more interested in educational guides while experienced investors are more interested in stock research tools.

A Significant Opportunity – But Better Resources Are Needed

There is a growing opportunity for credit unions to play a major role in the retirement and investment planning activities of its online members. Considering the growing retiree population and increasing reliance on personal retirement savings, financial planning services represent a significant opportunity for credit unions. The low personal savings rate shows that consumers may need help creating a savings plan.

In addition to enhanced resources, credit unions need to promote their resources better so members will use them. Lack of awareness is the most often cited reason for not using existing credit union resources or contacting the credit union for financial planning services. One member states, “I never knew they were there…..! But also never thought to look!”

Improving the Credit Union Website

Too many financial service websites do not do a good job of addressing the differing needs of consumers at various ends of the financial planning spectrum. The financial information needs of a 24-year-old grad student will not be the same as a 65- year-old retiree. It is important for credit unions to carefully consider their own membership segments. Does your website offer the tools and information that members need at various stages? Do the terminology, available account options, and resources really speak to these segments?

Despite the increasing concern over retirement options, many members need an additional push to take steps to improve their financial futures. The credit union website offers a means for education at convenient times as well as a chance for beginners to approach the subject in a non-intimidating way. Credit unions should consider using a wide range of messages and reminders promoting the ease of using the credit union’s services and education tools.

Beyond education, online members want comparative information and tools to help them select the right products. They are also interested in tools to help them evaluate their existing strategy and transaction capabilities that enable them to manage their investments online. Their feedback reinforces the fact that the credit union website will be an important component in the delivery of educational information and retirement account management in the future.

For more information on creating strategies to enhance and promote credit union online financial planning services, check out, “ Leveraging Online Financial Planning Tools to Heighten Member Awareness and Usage ,” a webinar brought to you by Callahan & Associates.




Oct. 2, 2006


  • Very useful information - thank you!
  • The article addressed the salient points and is very informative.
  • There is so much happening on-line that it is difficult for consumers to keep up. One prominent trend-setter can shift the playing field tremendously and raise customer expectations. However, not every member is an Internet junkie. Treading the middle ground between cutting edge and basic consumer understanding -- all while providing quality service -- is where we can differentiate ourselves in the market.
  • The key points to take away from this article need to be stressed a little more: Members are asking for more "informative" tools (i.e. education) and members don't know what is available. In other words - we aren't communicating effectively with our members, and don't leverage our trust in order to educate, inform and develop more trust.