Above And Beyond

This week on CreditUnions.com, check out tips and best practices from credit unions that have expanded their suite of financial products to include investment and insurance services.


Today, 40% fewer credit unions offer member insurance than in 2011. That's an opportunity for credit unions to get back in the field and offer members a dependable product and peace of mind. And despite the drop, many credit unions are doing just that through savings, life, and disability insurance options. Check out insurance program stats in the Graphic Of The Week.

But this week on CreditUnions.com is about more than insurance because there are other ways credit unions in the United States are going above and beyond for their members. So check out this week’s tips and best practices from credit unions that have expanded their suite of financial products to include investment or insurance services.

The stock market boom of 2014 and early 2015 might have had many investors smiling, but the economic boost likely skipped the majority of credit union members. According to a 2015 Bankrate survey, only 1 in 2 Americans own stocks. For those younger than 30, that figure drops to 1 in 4. And Generations Community Federal Credit Union sees the evidence of this trend every day.

“We currently have less than 15% penetration for investments among our membership,” says Marcel Theriot, the vice president of finance and the investment officer at Generations.

Unhappy with that statistic, the San Antonio, TX,-based credit union developed a three-pronged plan to catch members early and help them invest for life. Learn more about that in 3 Investment Strategies For 3 Life Stages.

When it comes to insurance, an affordable policy is a financially sound way for the average credit union member to manage against the unpredictability of life. Today, there are 444 credit unions that have offered member insurance for more than eight years, according to NCUA data. These institutions see value in these offerings for both the member and the credit union. And in 3 Tips To Strengthen Member Insurance Services, Ent FCU, Listerhill Credit Union, and Kentucky Employees Credit Union — institutions that have all offered some form of member insurance for eight years or more — provide insight into the strengths of insurance offerings as well as how to make the most of programs.

But it doesn’t take a decade to reap the rewards of an insurance programs. Firefighters First Credit Union expects to make $250,000 in net income this year from its in-house insurance agency, a revenue stream the California credit union expects to push to $1 million per year in the not-too-distant future. The credit union opened Firefighter Insurance Services in 2010 to fulfill two goals. First, the credit union wanted to create a reliable source of non-interest income; second, it wanted to provide members and non-members alike an essential product under a brand they trust. Learn more in How Firefighters First Credit Union Plans To Hit $1 Million In Net Income.

As Firefighters First shows, today’s environment of prolonged low interest rates, shrinking interchange income, and growing pressure from non-financial institution competitors is compelling many credit unions to lean on insurance or investment programs as a dependable revenue source. In fact, the NCUA says 119 credit unions have added either or both in the past two years. In How 4 Credit Unions Achieved Member Insurance And Investment Success, State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina, Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union in Connecticut, USC Credit Union in California, and Peninsula Community Federal Credit Union in Washington state discuss how they use different business models — from scratch to turnkey —and how each has developed its own proven marketing methods all with the end goal of improving the bottom line while deepening the member relationship.

Finally, two credit union partners offer strategies to make the most of insurance and investment services. Read about those today in Can Cross-Selling Enhance Your Auto Lending Strategy? and Technologies That Make Investment Programs More Successful.

Happy Reading.


June 1, 2015


  • Thank you, Mr. Wirz. I appreciate you taking the time to break down your program and offer this kind of detail. I love seeing different perspectives, and readers will benefit from your insight as well.
    Rebecca Wessler
  • SAFE Credit Union has been offering members investments, investment advice, and financial planning for over 25 years. Our brand promise is to offer members exceptional experiences, best solutions and professional experts. Our mission is to help our members improve their financial well being, provide excellent service and maintain a financially sound credit union. In order to live up to the brand promise and the mission, we have decided it is better to have our own credit union representatives. That is the less profitable option but it assures that we have the professional experts needed to help our members with the best solutions and to offer an exceptional experience. We have representatives assigned to cover each of our 22 branches. Each representative has an assistant who is also licensed and helps with the paperwork and scheduling. Eventually the understudy will become a representative. We have found it difficult to recruit representatives that share our value of do the right thing for the right reason. We are asking our representatives to raise their professional expertise by becoming a certified financial planner (CFP). Our business plan for our investment business includes; adding more representatives so that the ratio of representatives is lower than it is today. We see that our representatives have too many members to spend the time we feel is necessary to achieve the service level we want for our members; we want to combine the investment statements and the credit union statements for those members who want a combined statement; we will add teleconferencing so that members can interface with representatives from home or from anywhere the member can access teleconferencing. An investment program adds significant risks that require a high level of oversight by both the broker dealer and the credit union. The main risk is that representatives sell inappropriate products. Representatives are commissioned and they earn money by selling.
    Henry Wirz