While many credit unions have long included member education as part of their mission, rising consumer debt levels, new bankruptcy laws, and concerns about social security and retirement savings are contributing to an increased focus on the need for consumer financial education.
Credit unions have a significant opportunity to meet the demand for unbiased financial education. They are well positioned to do so, provided they can effectively fulfill this need.
Role of the Credit Union Website in Providing Education
Credit unions report that their greatest challenges in providing member education are related to member participation, a lack of resources, and finding the right delivery methods. The credit union website provides an ideal solution to these challenges. It has the potential to reach a segment that is actively looking for information and has flexibility in terms of format and tools.
Consumers are going online for education and research in increasing numbers regardless of whether they ultimately prefer to obtain financial services at the branch, via phone or online. The credit union website is clearly a critical channel for providing educational information to not only current but also prospective members.
Most Trusted Online Resource for Financial Information
A recent survey of more than 13,000 online credit union members conducted by Callahan’s Survey Consortium provides insight into the education needs and challenges of members when researching online. The data shows that the credit union website is typically one of the first websites members turn to when conducting research. Though members are using other resources for financial service research, credit unions hold a significant advantage over other financial education providers.
The credit union website is one of the most trusted online resources, with about two-thirds of online credit union members saying they would be most likely to turn to their credit union website for unbiased advice regarding financial products and services. Few members believe they’ll receive unbiased information from a bank or financial planner website.
The chart below demonstrates the differing proportions of members who say they would be likely to turn to that resource for unbiased advice regarding financial products and services.
To effectively compete online, credit unions will need to move beyond providing general product information and more actively assist their members with selecting the right products and services to fit their financial service needs. As one member noted:
“I trust the information available from the credit union. I just don't find the diversity of information or the breath of information to be wide enough. I also don't find logical ways to systematically find information.”
Do your members feel that your website is well equipped to help them with their financial service decision-making process?
In coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting key findings from the Survey Consortium research and the implications for credit union member education programs. For information regarding Callahan’s Internet Strategy Consortium, a shared cost research group, contact Denise Senecal at 800-446-7453.