Post-Employed Members Provide A New Challenge and Opportunity

Ed Callahan advocates the need for product and service offerings catered to post-employed members. If done well, older, loyal members will guide young people to the credit union credo.


This article originally appeared in the September issue of the Callahan Report.

Credit unions built themselves mainly around workplace sponsors. Their core members were the persons who were employed by the sponsor and who deposited their savings at their workplace credit unions.

The single-sponsor model has largely disappeared, giving way to conglomerations of fields of membership, even “open” charters.

But that is not the only thing that has changed about the face of present-day credit unions. Credit unions today are also witnessing a migration of core members away from the workplace and into what might be called post-employment. These are the pre- and present babyboomers who recently have, are now, or soon will be ending their primary careers and taking up something new. Persons in their fifties now opt for early retirement, move to the country and seize upon a new career, from running a bed-and-breakfast to consulting to teaching to volunteer work.

I know of one credit union where only one-third of the members are working in sponsor factories and offices; the remainder are scattered. The funny thing is that this credit union has not responded to that reality; its service centers and focus are still squarely aimed at the persons in the sponsor’s workplace.

This credit union and others should adjust their sites. Core members are becoming what I might call the post-employed. But they have a huge need for financial services, maybe more than at any other time of their lives – their peak income years may be over, but their peak net worth period is definitely not.

Retaining and Engaging the Post-Employed

How do credit unions engage the post-employed? How do they add value to their financial lives? How do they “follow the member” during this huge demographic shift?

There are a number of ways. I think one is shared branching. I know from experience that many post-employed have moved from California to such neighboring states as Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. But they can connect with their original credit unions through shared branching. I stay connected with my credit union Patelco through shared branches near my home in Nevada. Shared branches allow me and people like me to stay loyal to their life-long credit unions.

Another way to “follow the member” in this instance is to offer and improve products the post-employed can use. These include investment services, IRAs, market-leading CDs and the like. Credit unions need to be sensitive to the fact that members are likely to have several jobs over their working lives and that they are going to require continuity for their retirement equity. Credit unions can provide this. Credit unions should be offering especially helpful wealth builders and IRA products like Roth IRAs.

They should also be working hard to remind their post-employed members that the likes of Roth IRAs or education accounts can be established for their children and grandchildren. Many a grandparent has visited grandchildren only to find their rooms filled with toys and games and thus becoming bewildered about what sort of birthday or holiday gift could possibly add to this cornucopia of entertainment. The solution to their confusion is establishing Roth IRAs, college plans or other accounts for these progeny. Such programs both help the post-employed manage their money and build better lives for the offspring.

Circular Lifecycle Marketing

This last effort does double duty. It not only provides needed services to the post-employed, but also if done right it attracts and retains the people who represent the future of the credit union itself, that is, the younger members and younger potential members. The older members introduce the younger ones – the members of their own families – to the products, disciplines and responsibilities of the credit union movement.

The post-employed, the persons who joined from a sponsor workplace and who put away savings for years with the credit union, are the credit union’s most loyal members. If the credit union can serve them well and if it can educate them to opening savings plans for their children and grandchildren then the credit union has instigated a whole new dimension to lifecycle marketing.

All credit unions are worried about attracting new and younger members. They cogitate over lifecycle marketing, that is, attracting persons while young and retaining them through all cycles of their lives, from first car loans to IRA distributions. Here is a way to convert lifecycle marketing from a linear mindset to – as it should be – a circular one. The older loyal members provide the seeds to the younger generation, passing on – recycling if you will – the credit union message to coming generations.

Such offerings as “family tree specials” can stimulate the post-employed into establishing accounts for their younger family members. By introducing credit union advantages to the younger set, the older members not only promote financial stability for their kin but also a future for the credit union.

That’s really a win-win situation.




Dec. 6, 2004


  • As the Retirement Services Department Manager for Rockland Federal Credit Union, I found your article refreshing and motivating. I deal with older members who trust us with their retirement savings and do get referrals from them. RFCU has always offered competitive rates for IRAs and works to provide exceptional member service. Continuing education has alway been a priority so that we can offer the member the latest plan information.
  • I think that Ed is definitely on to something. Turn the parents and grandparents, post-employed into marketing tools.