Kids and Credit Unions: Bolstering Engagement in Younger Generations

 

Parents are more uncertain than ever when it comes to figuring out the appropriate timelines for teaching and exposing their children to certain tools and learning opportunities. When do you get them their first phone? Their first bank account? In a world where they can find the information before you show it to them, it’s a good idea to help your members determine when to mix kids and credit unions. Here are some of the best tips we’ve found.

Kids and Credit Unions: When to Start

“Technology has changed the way we make purchases and track them, and kids need to know how things work,” Forbes says in their article “When to Get Your Child a Bank Account And Debit Card.”

Your members are likely struggling to decide when and how to start teaching their children about financial health. While there is no perfect age to introduce them to the world of banking, many experts say the time to start showing them how money and savings work is when they are old enough to understand. Most children can comprehend an introduction to banking between the ages of 8 and 12. 75% of university students don’t know what credit unions are, and the sooner you can get them acquainted with your credit union, the more likely they are to utilize your services as adults. Let’s talk about some ways to bridge the gap between kids and credit unions.

Include App Education

Popular financial apps like UNest and Acorns are creating banking solutions for kids. The younger generations are looking for quick, mobile, and app-based banking solutions and insights. UNest is a credit union-friendly app that partners with CUs to help parents make smart investments for their kids’ futures.

Your credit union can appeal widely to younger potential credit union members by offering educational content and resources that help kids and their parents traverse the latest financial technology. It is also a good idea to audit these apps for their merits and create kid-centric programs to compete with top fintech brands.

Run Kid-Centric Campaigns

April is National CU Youth Month, and this is a perfect time to launch or highlight programs your credit union has available for its youngest members.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has many great resources for catering to a child’s understanding of financial education. They offer resources that describe money milestones, money choices, and much more. Some of their topics include talking about: buying a car, getting a pet, moving to a new house, paying bills, and paying with credit and debit cards.

Credit unions are uniquely positioned to provide financial education resources and events, why not lean into that to appeal to your most curious members?

Leverage Credit Unions’ Foundation

No matter how well-done the campaign, advertising to children is a difficult course of action. And when it comes to opening bank accounts, using credit cards, and the like, targeting children with your campaigns can feel particularly egregious to parents. Enter your trustworthy credit union.

Since credit unions are member-owned, there are no banking executives who are padding their pockets with a child’s allowance money. The money a credit union collects from its members ends up right back in the members’ hands, in the form of fewer fees and better interest rates.

The Future: Kids and Credit Unions

IMS Integration has a wealth of well-honed industry expertise, and we want to use it to create a custom web development plan to help you reach a larger demographic of members by catering to younger potential members. We offer everything from online member applications to data extracts and manipulation, third-party integration, and more. Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions. 

 


Boost Member Loyalty for Your Credit Union

 

Retention and loyalty are the main foundation of any customer- or member-based business. And credit unions are no different. And lately, reputation and online presence are determining factors in the loyalty conversation. Here are some tips for boosting member loyalty.

Get Creative with Loyalty Programs

Your loyalty program will be as successful as you make it. Members are constantly looking for the best deals, especially when it comes to financial opportunities like lending, saving, and debt consolidation. 61% of financial institution members would prefer to manage their loyalty benefits through a mobile wallet.

The first thing you need to do to boost member loyalty is to make sure your loyalty program accounts for new and developing digital solutions that have come about either by the natural progression to online services or through the rapid digitization of many industries, as caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Top priorities for your revamped loyalty program should include:

  • Streamlined services: lending, FAQs, user-friendly apps and banking processes
  • Optimized mobile solutions and capabilities
  • Application checklists, reminders, and estimation tools (mortgage, personal loans, web loan applications, and more)

Personalization

Social media, promotional emails, Starbucks coffee cups – people like their consumer experiences to feel personal, not transactional or mass-produced. And credit unions are tailor-made for this. If you can offer similar products and services as big banks but do it in a way that feels significant to your members as individuals, loyalty to your credit union and your financial brand will increase.

Creating authentic conversations and transactions with your members can help them commit to loyalty programs and campaigns. And data and automation can help make the personalization process more efficient and error-free.

Reach Out to Struggling Members

One way to increase loyalty is to offer more assistance and education to your members who are struggling financially. Adding extra classes or online resources that cater to those in the lowest income brackets is a great way to do this.

If you have members who are in arrears, your credit union’s leaders should spend some time brainstorming and implementing processes that can help your most vulnerable members create some momentum for future financial growth and success. This is especially true with Millennial and Gen Z members, who are ultra-focused on paying down debt and achieving financial independence from student loans and other expenses incurred in early adulthood.

Optimize Your Technology

Rapid service and after-hours access are things your members have come to expect in this increasingly digital world. Leveraging technology on all fronts will help your members remain loyal because they know your credit union is at the forefront of innovative solutions.

Technology optimization can mean creating and revamping mobile apps, including new computers or tablets in your employees’ workflows, and creating contactless touchpoints that could include kiosks in your branches, or other ATM or online services that can enhance your member experience.

Boost Loyalty with Customized CU Solutions

A robust digital presence is instrumental to the success and future of your credit union. IMS Integration has a number of elegant member-facing web solutions for your credit union, including Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay, Online Self Service Forms, and Trial Balance.

Request a consultation today for more information about these and other credit union solutions we offer.


Ways Credit Unions Support Members

 

Credit unions are unique in that their business model is half bank, half non-profit. Sometimes, the best marketing angle is the most direct one. Here is a list of ways credit unions support members.

Best Financial Rates and Opportunities

Credit unions as non-profits typically offer better interest rates on loans, savings accounts, CDs and have better options when it comes to checking accounts. For-profit banks can’t compete on that front, but they use their marketing power to draw attention to the other products and services they offer.

Skip a Payment

As the pandemic ramped up, many financial institutions tried to help their customers by offering loan forbearance, waiving fees, and allowing struggling individuals to skip a payment. Credit unions were some of the first financial institutions to do so, in order to better support members.  

Credit unions have always been quick to waive fees for members who were struggling and Skip a Pay has been a CU-led program from the beginning.

Small Business Credit Champions

Because credit unions often serve specific geographic locations (a town, county, or rural area), they are uniquely positioned to offer support to members who run their own small businesses.

One of the many ways credit unions do this is through personal and signature loans. Potential small business owners can count on credit unions to do a more broad financial check (increasing the chances of getting the loan approved) and offer lower rates for members to get the credit they need to start or run their business.

They also offer short-term loans in ways that are much less predatory in nature than big banks and especially payday lenders.

Credit Unions are Member-Owned

The idea of being a stakeholder in something like a financial institution seems out of reach for many, but credit unions provide that opportunity to more diverse communities than any other financial institution.

As a “publicly owned” company, credit unions are more attentive to the changing needs of their community. With big banks, uniformity is often the goal. They want you to get the exact same experience whether you enter a branch in Oklahoma or in downtown New York City.

This is not so with CUs. Sure, the core values of a credit union don’t change, but the manner in which they serve their communities changes with the community’s shifts in financial literacy, tech-savviness, and so much more. Diversity doesn’t just come from the people who are the cornerstone of every credit union, it also comes in the approaches that are taken to achieve more member satisfaction.

Focus on Education

The worst feeling any customer can have is when you go into a potential transaction knowing you are vastly undereducated compared to the experts you are trying to work with. With the surge in popularity of life hacks and other “did you know” style education that people are sharing on social media to help others keep from getting scammed or duped, credit unions fit right in!

Credit unions have never wanted to hold the keys to the kingdom, they want to share them. Financial education is arguably one of the most impactful ways they support members. And now, more than ever, people are looking for helpful ways to achieve better financial health to recover what was lost in 2020.

And because education is a part of a successful member experience, credit union staff members are much more likely to take the time with their clients to help guide and educate them about their choices, rather than approaching every sales opportunity with an “upsell” mindset.

The Best Tech Solutions for Your Members

IMS Integration has many credit union solutions that can move your CU operations into the future. IMSI’s member-facing web solutions like Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay, Online Self Service forms, and Trial Balance are perfect for reaching new members and updating your processes.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Credit Unions in a Post-COVID World

 

March 2020 changed the world. It changed the way we move through our homes, public spaces, and workplaces. It changed how we thought about what defines an office, and a home. And it defined the way we interacted with technology and money as well. So let’s take a look at what credit unions in a post-COVID world will look like.

Credit Unions and COVID

Branches of banks and credit unions had to shut down in-person – most temporarily, but some permanently. Others reduced their hours of operation as they pivoted to remote work for some or all of their staff members. Credit union members bombarded branches with requests through phone calls, chats, and mobile apps.

So what does it look like now? According to Silvercloud, the credit union industry is focused on digital solutions:

  1. Self-service activity on bank and credit union websites increased 69% in just one year.
  2. Chatbot usage increased 272%
  3. Banking by appointment continues to grow.

Shift from Products and Services to Support

The coronavirus pandemic showed us all how much we need other people. And when it comes to businesses, like credit unions, that serve the public consumer, there’s been a distinct shift in messaging. Your credit union members don’t want a service, they want a partner. And credit unions are already uniquely positioned to work closely with their communities.

Your credit union’s message has to reflect that desire to create a meaningful relationship with your members.

One-to-One Communications

Personalization is the key to many of your future credit union offerings. We’ve discussed this and the optimization of your digital member experience previously.

Along with that feeling of support and partnership, credit union members are looking for a customer experience that is tailored to their needs and their financial situation. Mass marketing and blanket advertising will likely not be effective right now and in the near future.

Credit union staff members can call, text, and email members with answers to questions, suggestions for products and services, and actionable correspondence. And the methods of communication need to be user-friendly and streamlined because digital customers are abandoning business models that don’t innovate and improve the end-user experience.

Think Digital

The Credit Union Times had this to say about the future:

“Many credit unions still do business like the industry did in 1985. We pride ourselves on our services, but by service we mean personal, face-to-face service – not a digital experience. We have been making decisions based on this service model and COVID showed us that this thinking is flawed.”

While our industry is heavily based on regulation and process control, there are still lots of ways you can use technology to make your operations more modern, more efficient, and safer than past practices.

Overall Takeaways

The future of banking is digital. And that means keeping and refining the new technological pivots we made as a result of the pandemic. To capture and retain members, credit unions will have to focus on new and innovative ways to offer their products and services and offer them through websites and mobile apps.

Plan for the Future with IMS Integration

IMS Integration has many credit union solutions that can move your CU operations into the future. IMSI’s member-facing web solutions like Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay, Online Self Service forms, and Trial Balance are perfect for reaching new members and updating your processes.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.

 


Credit Union Leadership & Innovation in 2021 and Beyond

 

Innovation is often seen through the lens of cutting-edge technology, but the cornerstone of anything innovative is the creativity to start or improve existing ideas and processes. And credit unions across the U.S. were able to grow their membership by 2.8% between year-end 2019 and September 2020. Far from the perception of antiquity that seems to stick to them, credit union leadership and innovation are paving the way to a bright future.

Fostering Creativity through Leadership

If innovation stems from creativity, you need creative leaders in your credit union. The role of a leader is said to account for 67% of the influence in determining if the organization will be creative.

But how does a leader foster creativity? In short, you foster an environment where creativity can thrive. Your leaders should be trained in creativity methods – prioritize the idea of showing your teams that creative ideas are more than just encouraged, they are tested and executed. Creating a space that allows for feedback and testing on new ideas shows your managers and employees that they have the power to affect change on every level. And once your staff feels like they can be vocal, they’ll continue to contribute to those conversations.

Spearhead a Competition

Sometimes, you can find creativity when you think outside the box. Many companies, large corporations with even larger social media followings, often run contests to drum up creative taglines or content ideas. You can do that within your own teams, too.

Rather than simply relying on your marketing team to shoulder all creative burdens, invite other departments and create a friendly competition out of creating a new logo, tagline, or advertising campaign. Idea-based competitions can take many forms and garner surprising results.

Don’t Give Up

This embracing of creative ideas requires a fair amount of buy-in, as well. When you take on these new ideas, you have to keep them in place. Most new programs need time to be implemented, and then understood and accepted. This is especially true if your new process also involves your members.

Investing in innovative ideas means investing in the time it takes to see if the change will net a positive outcome.

Creative Problem-Solving Process

Practice makes perfect, and CUManagement offers a 4-step creative problem-solving process:

  1. Clarify the problem
  2. Generate ideas. The more, the better.
  3. Develop solutions from the best of your ideas.
  4. Plan for action.

Once you’ve created a process that works for you and your teams, you can build on these 4 steps and tailor it to give you the best outcomes.

Embrace Failure

Some of your innovative ideas will fail. It’s inevitable. And how you and your team leaders handle that is paramount to fostering a culture of innovation.

When those failures come, it’s important to practice humility and forward-thinking. According to Meistertask, when team members consider their boss a humble leader, this creates “psychological capital,” which increases feelings of hope, optimism, and resilience.

Like any team effort, focusing on solutions and adjustments over blaming or apologizing allows for growth and continued momentum.

Professional Services for Innovative Credit Unions

IMS Integration knows credit unions from the ground up. We have a range of professional services that are customized to you and your credit union. From custom web development, to UI and batch scripting, to custom electronic forms, IMSI can help you implement innovative solutions that will better serve your members and create opportunities for your business.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Tips for Improving Credit Union Member Retention

 

Acquiring a new credit union member typically costs between $400 and $700, according to CU 2.0. Depending on different estimates, it takes about 2 years for a banking customer to generate enough revenue for your financial institution to cover that initial cost. And with something like 40% of new customers will churn before the institution makes that money back.

Let’s dive into some tips for improving credit union member retention.

Continue the Relationship

Credit union retention isn’t helped by new member acquisition. Once you’ve wowed a prospective member into joining your CU, it is not the time to pump the breaks on your communication with them.

One of the most crucial ways to improve credit union member retention is to continue the relationship you started. There are tons of ways to accomplish this. You can set up automated email sequences to trigger when members take certain actions – remember that every email doesn’t have to be sales-y. You can share knowledge, educational opportunities, and other worthwhile insights with members to remind them that you are their financial partner, not just a financial service.

Engagement Fosters Retention

This communication doesn’t have to be one-sided: give your members lots of chances to participate in the conversation, too.

Keeping in touch through your members’ life and family changes can encourage them to reach out more readily when they have new and evolving financial needs. Meet them where they are: in the community, on social media, on your website. And be sure to build engagement into your brand’s communications across platforms.

Another great way to foster engagement is by offering surveys. Today’s consumer is very adamant about using their voice to promote the brands they love, and to speak up and advocate for changes they wish to see in a brand.  

Stay Competitive – Especially with Your Technology

Credit unions are no longer the dinosaurs of fintech – they are bringing targeted IT solutions and online offerings that rival big banks. Now more than ever, your member retention depends on the accessibility and user-friendliness of your online products and services.

Update your website and its interfaces. Make sure you promote your online services in easy and convenient formats. Start building a cache of resources – video, written content, reports, and more – that can point members in the right direction when they don’t want to speak to a representative over the phone. And make sure you have great chat capabilities – if it’s not well-done, it can cost you members.

Offer Customization Where It Makes Sense

Big banks can offer more standard services than most credit unions can, but in today’s digital age, people are looking for options. Customization is no longer a preference, it’s a necessity for your members.

This is one of many areas where credit unions’ small business size is advantageous. “People often choose credit unions because these member-owned financial institutions offer more customized products based on member interests,” according to Jrni. This is a perfect opportunity for you to put those surveys we previously mentioned to work!

Consider Online Appointment Booking and Queue Management

Some of the best tech solutions expanded by the COVID-19 pandemic are online booking and queues. Many restaurant and other service-based businesses incorporated online booking and queues into their websites. The pandemic showed us there are better ways to do things.

Having a queue management system allows your members to see why they aren’t being assisted right away, and how long they’ll be waiting for that assistance to reach them. This does two big things: it gives them expectations – which results in less frustration and confusion – and it also allows them some agency. They can rejoin the queue later if it’s too long or if they will be busy before a credit union employee can help them.

Expand Your Credit Union’s Digital Reach

IMS Integration can help improve your credit union online offerings, starting with web loan applications. IMSI’s online loan applications are designed to incorporate your credit union brand and image, and can be designed to collect as much information as you need. We also offer a variety of custom electronic forms, perfect for reaching new members and updating your processes.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Big Moves in Mobile Banking

 

Mobile banking, a feature that’s been around for years, has suddenly become a primary means for credit union members to carry out as much of their financial activity as possible.

Let’s take a look at how mobile banking is succeeding – and the areas that need some work.

Winning Features from Top CUs

Nerd Wallet recently shared a list of the 6 Best Banks and Credit Unions for Mobile Banking, and here are the top tools each is using to entice customers and enhance their mobile offerings:

  •  Tools for managing and increasing savings
  • High interest rate on savings
  • Generous ATM fee reimbursements
  • Advanced mobile app security
  • Wide branch access
  • High daily limit for depositing checks

This is a great cross-section of the types of features mobile banking customers are coming to expect.

Balance Preview & Other Communication Features

Balance preview is a successful feature Alliant Credit Union implemented that allows members to check their balances quickly without logging in.

More transparent communication options are going to be big draws for mobile banking apps as more and more people move away from doing business in physical credit union locations and adopt a more mobile-forward approach on a permanent basis.

Communication features like messaging and chats that connect members to customer service representatives are also great features for any mobile banking app. This allows some AI or one-to-one interactions to help your customers navigate functionality or update issues and answer general information questions.

Mobile Bill Pay Is Mutually Beneficial

Online and mobile bill pay is a great process that mutually benefits credit unions and their members. Automating payments means peace of mind and one less thing to worry about for members, and it also means credit unions don’t have as many late payment issues to work through.

This is still an area of potential growth for many credit unions. Running targeted campaigns and offering informational materials describing the benefits and features of automatic bill pay could increase your credit union’s appeal and position as a tech-forward financial option.

Personalization

As with many mobile-based programs, mobile banking is going to evolve to become more and more customizable for users. Everyone carries out their financial responsibilities differently, so it makes sense that mobile banking is also going to benefit from this personalization.

Personalization can include a variety of transactional or banking insights based on each member’s preferences and activities, icon placement and size, photos, and personal financial goals.

Security

This personalization can also be applied to security features. The goal of the mobile banking experience should be to fit into every member’s lifestyle and preference. A tall order, but many online experiences are incorporating similar features to create the optimal experience for each user.

As for security, this could mean creating options for fast, seamless login features like fingerprint scans, face ID, push notifications for logging in and tracking activity, and other biometric-based options.

Implementing security features that can stop cyber criminals without making login and verification processes annoying and time-consuming for users is going to be the challenge here.

For Credit Unions Looking to Update Their Digital Solutions

IMS Integration has a host of great credit union solutions, including Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay, Online Self Service forms, and Trial Balance. Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Trends in Auto Lending

 

Today, credit unions are tasked with adapting older or outdated processes and services to a newer market. Add a pandemic to the mix, and you see a surge in online and mobile banking that will be hard to ignore from now on. And auto lending is no different.

Here are some trends in auto lending to watch for.

Online Car Shopping Trends

With social distancing and increased cleaning protocols, shopping for cars online has become a go-to for those in the market for a new ride.

And once they start that online car shopping process, interested individuals want to make sure they can get financing before they invest themselves emotionally in a car they won’t be able to get a loan for.

More and more, the future of auto shopping and lending is going to be virtual. And that’s why your credit union needs to be ready to embrace the following trends to capture your portion of this audience’s attention and business.

Early Loan Preapprovals

61% of new car financing happens through vehicle manufacturers and dealerships, but the majority of used car financing takes place at banks and credit unions.

This presents an opportunity for your credit union to offer auto loan pre-approvals to members through multi-channel campaigns so you can reach them before they try to finance those loans through other dealerships or financial institutions.

Increase Loan Amounts

CU Management has some compelling insights about how credit unions can play to their auto lending strengths:

“Credit unions tend to go a little bit larger in the average amount financed compared to banks and finance companies…They don’t go out the longest terms, but when you combine their sweet spot of 73 months with low interest rates, credit unions offer the most competitive product in the marketplace, particularly for prime and super-prime customers.”

By increasing loan amounts and offering competitive interest rates, you can give your members the opportunity to treat themselves to a slightly nicer car than they anticipated. You can position it as a post-pandemic opportunity at pandemic-like rates. This will be appealing to your members, especially as they watch gas, home remodel materials, and other prices go up in response to the vaccine rollout and the decreasing COVID restrictions.

Leverage Past Applications for Refinancing

Refinancing has defined many interactions between consumers and financial institutions in the last year, so why not keep that momentum going?

Credit unions can recapture a lot of business by going back through 2019 and 2020 loan applications that were lost or abandoned, and offering those applicants who are members some refinancing options.

Increase Education Efforts

The pandemic gave us all a good look at which areas of our lives – especially those tied to finances – we could use some more education in.

Credit unions are perfectly positioned to offer a wider variety of educational content geared toward different financial situations and age groups. What millennials need right now may not be the same as what Gen Xers needed at that same age. Tailoring your education to more targeted demographics can broaden your credit union’s reach while also appealing more directly to younger generations, who are always looking for more value and insight from expert brands.

Focus on Alternative Credit Data

Many millennials and Gen Zers are not going to have the traditional lines of credit that their parents and grandparents had when applying for loans. For those who are too young to have a well-rounded traditional credit score, take a look at other financial areas such as rental records, utility payments, address consistency, and employment history. 

This is a great way to capture a traditionally overlooked population looking for an auto lender.

Tech Upgrades

IMS Integration can help improve your credit union online offerings, starting with web loan applications. IMSI’s online loan applications are designed to incorporate your credit union brand and image and can be designed to collect as much information as you need.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Community Outreach during National Small Business Week

 

2021’s National Small Business Week is coming up. From May 3 to May 9, communities come together to highlight the importance of entrepreneurs and small business owners across the US. And this is also a great time for your credit union to perform some targeted community outreach.

Let’s discuss some tips and ideas for celebrating small businesses with your credit union resources.

Why Celebrate National Small Business Week?

Credit unions are (or should be) seen as more than just banks – they are financial institutions with close ties to the communities they serve.

Recently, it’s been reported that credit unions are losing out on opportunities to serve small businesses, due to the rise of fintech like Square and Stripe and larger institutions’ increasingly focused efforts to capture the small business owner’s attention.

But credit unions are uniquely positioned to help small businesses, which means you should be using that positioning to your CU’s advantage!

Celebrating National Small Business Week is a great way to build relationships with local entrepreneurs.

Sponsor an Awards Competition or Spotlight

Small businesses need many things, but one of the biggest things they need is quality “air time”. They need people and businesses in the area to talk about their brand, products, and services to help spread the word and drum up more business. And that’s never been more crucial than right now.  

Millions of small businesses closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID pandemic, and entrepreneurs need someone to start talking about them again. Credit unions are a great partner in this effort.

There are many ways your credit union can highlight local businesses, and during National Small Business Week, one great way to do this is to host a spotlight or awards competition for local businesses. Businesses can sign up to participate or be nominated by a social media comment or event share, and then you can use a preferred platform to spotlight each business and its purpose. After the spotlight, you can also create polls or contests to let your community members participate in choosing the winners. You can use the Small Business Association’s list of awards as a starting point or you can make up your own!

Create a Tradeshow or Event

This one is a bit more time-consuming, but your credit union can also sponsor or host an event where you allow small businesses to set up a booth for a small fee.

Not only does this generate business for you and the participating businesses, but it’s also an engaging way to promote your credit union’s brand as community-centered. Attendees will associate your credit union with fun “shop local” initiatives, thus increasing the visibility of your brand.

Host a Panel or Discussion Group

Small business owners often feel like their concerns aren’t heard in the same way that big businesses are. To combat this, you can host a roundtable, discussion group, or dinner event for local entrepreneurs.

This gives small business owners a chance to network with you and other area businesses and share their struggles, triumphs, and insights with like-minded individuals. It also shows these businesses that you and your credit union are open to building meaningful relationships that will benefit your business and theirs.

Upgrade Your Software to Compete with the FinTechs

Big businesses aren’t the only ones that can upgrade their software and score more customers. IMS Integration is dedicated to helping you bridge the gap so you can compete with the big guys while still staying focused on serving the little guys in your community.

IMS Integration is here with a full range of credit union software solutions to take your problem-solving effectiveness to the next level.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Financial Preparedness Approaches for the Future

 

Financial preparedness meant something like a “rainy day” stash or “disaster fund” before the events of 2020. Many credit union members were lucky enough not to have worried about what it takes to be financially prepared. If they don’t live somewhere with extreme weather, many thought financial preparedness plans didn’t really apply to them.

And then a pandemic happened, and nearly everyone in the USA and the world was forced to take a hard look at their financial situation because the stability we thought we had was gone.

Credit unions and members alike should be looking forward with a renewed appreciation for financial planning. Let’s discuss some important financial preparedness approaches for post-pandemic life.

Have a Plan B

In 2020, many workers experienced a sharp decrease in wages due to layoffs, furloughs, and quarantine-related shutdowns or capacity limitations. While we hope never to live through something like that again, it’s important to realize how desperate many families’ situations were before the pandemic hit.

According to CNBC, “roughly 1 in 3 households had trouble making ends meet right before the coronavirus pandemic.” 33% of the population were struggling to keep up with their bills in a normal financial climate, and that number only grew as the pandemic stretched on.

That’s why having a plan B is essential. If you encourage members to start now, it’s much easier to get through rough patches when you’ve been stockpiling funds a few dollars at a time. Encouraging members to create separate savings accounts for emergencies is a helpful way to teach financial preparedness in a way that is relatable.

That emergency fund can be used for sudden changes in job status or pay, sudden expenses like replacing a totaled car, or paying for medical emergencies. When you phrase it as a series of probable bumps in the road, rather than an “in case a tornado or hurricane wipes out our house”, emergency funds start to make more sense to your members and become a valued service and insight you are offering them.

As for natural disasters specifically, it’s also good to inform credit union members that they should keep a small stash of cash at home, in the event that power in the area goes out and ATM withdrawals are not an option.

Budget What You Have

Budgeting is an elusive concept to many Americans. In fact, an Intuit survey showed that 65% of Americans have no clue how much money they spent last month.

But that doesn’t mean you should jump right into a hyper-detailed budgeting strategy. Just like learning to read, you don’t start with an entire book. You move through each letter, and then on to words, sentences, paragraphs, and so on.

Incorporating budgeting strategies a little at a time can help your members learn basic financial preparedness and planning, which can improve their financial stability little by little. Younger generations have previously been reported as not financially responsible, and you can’t teach that responsibility overnight. Creating budgets for small things, like groceries or streaming services can help members recognize and identify areas in their life that could use a good budgeting once-over.

Mitigate Debt

The COVID pandemic caused more than 51% of adults with credit card debt to add to their balances from March 2020 to January 2021.

In leaner times, financial goals should shift from growth and expansion – new house, newer car, impulse purchases on Amazon – to debt mitigation. If credit card debt is trending upwards, it’s important to revisit that budget, maybe cut out a few of the less essential expenses and make some goals to pay off credit card debt. For Millennials and Gen Z, offering these insights through your credit union is a great way to appeal to this very debt-conscious demographic.

Ensure Quick & Easy Access to Financial Information and Services

As a result of the pandemic, more people are using online banking services than ever before. Credit unions that wish to see success in a post-pandemic world need to be implementing and troubleshooting more digital services and offerings so as to keep up with the demand that is now present for these contactless banking options.

IMS Integration is here to help you optimize your credit union’s website with Web Loan Applications, Online Account Opening, and so much more.

Contact us today for more information about our credit union solutions.