I have a budget, I’m paying down debt, I contribute to a retirement account, and I’m working on building my emergency fund — in other words, I’ve got the basics covered. But because I’m Gen Y, many of the resources offered to me by my financial institutions focus on the same basic lessons (think budget worksheet) I learned years ago.
When I explain that I’ve already graduated from the beginner financial literacy class and would like to learn more, I’m usually met with a handful of materials that propel me straight into the advanced class of products and services (i.e., How to Apply for a Car Loan, How to Apply for a Mortgage, Investment Options With XYZ, or Your Small Business Loan And You.)
For me, financial literacy basics are point A. Buying a car, a house, or other things that I don’t need and can’t afford right now are point M. Investments? They’re somewhere along the way.
By underwhelming in financial literacy and overwhelming with too many major product pitches too early on, these institutions skipped over a big step in my financial life. They also overlooked a major opportunity to both monetize their expertise and make me a more loyal member by helping me create a plan to get from point A to point M.
Although I am not a member of this financial institution, I was interested to learn that McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union ($312M, East Windsor, NJ) has created a formalized program to accomplish just that. According to Joseph Conners, the credit union’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, McGraw-Hill has been going beyond the basics with financial literacy for quite some time, even hosting monthly seminars on credit score management, identity theft protection, and much more.
Now, McGraw-Hill has taken these resources one step further by creating a CUSO, Lifecycle Financial Advisors, which offers fee-only financial planning at an affordable price. Members can meet with a certified financial planner and receive feedback on where they are in relation to their goals, set up a plan, and even have quarterly check-ins to review their progress. While the CUSO is also a registered investment advisor and can help members set up low-cost portfolios, the focus is on life goals including debt management, budgeting, savings, and insurance needs.
Although the CUSO is still in its introductory stage and hasn’t yet been launched to all of McGraw-Hill’s membership, Conners says that they’ve seen interest from all demographics – young families, retired executives, even members with extensive financial experience. And I’m sure that’s just the beginning.
The lesson I hope my financial institutions learn from my suggestions and this new McGraw-Hill’s initiative? Don’t automatically limit Gen Y's access to financial knowledge just because of our age and avoid pitching your most complex products before we have both the interest and the resources to actually take that next step. Listen to what we’re really asking for and sell us your insights, guidance, and advice as well as your products. Given the choice, I’ll take my business to the institution that prioritizes my financial health over one that prioritizes making a sale every time.