Update 8/23/16: NCUF recently held a #foundationchat on Twitter about member financial education. Though this was written prior to that discussion, many of the points are shared.

Very short background: My family has a vacation property we rent to guests during their travels. The audio/video components (TV, stereo, DVD, etc.) have detailed instructions for use. Of course, there’s always someone who thinks they know better, and rewires the system to their whims. Shockingly, it then doesn’t work right. Puzzled and embarrassed, they leave it and future guests complain the directions are wrong. Cue regular phone conversations troubleshooting and working around these modifications until I can get back to fix the “updates”.

Stereo systems aren’t the only thing people know better. Financial services, too. Members need your help, but, like most people, want to feel they are doing things themselves. How can you empower them while educating and guiding towards your services?

Think back to learning to ride a bicycle. Did your parents send you off the nearest black diamond cliff with nary a wave? If so, we need to talk, because you have stories to tell.

Typically, there’s a training period…with training wheels to protect against falls. That’s your financial education program. It’s a foolproof service for those who need careful guidance. But some people know how to ride a bicycle; they’re just not too confident. If you were wobbly, and I suggested putting the training wheels back on, how would you respond? Exactly.

Create a tiered education/action program for them as well. It’s no longer about rolling up and down the driveway; these members are riding down the easy trails (ie. taking first steps to managing their funds)! The steps taken now are their own, with suggestions by your team. If your member tips their bike, the credit union is equipped to catch and help get them pedaling again. Each consultation enables the member to go further on their own, with confidence and competency.

Every day I read about how credit unions are the leaders in financial education, that they can serve the role sorely needed in our society. The NCUF promotes it on their home page through grants, youth programs, and more. CU Social Good asks credit unions nationwide to share their stories. It’s all about the strategy! Just as you wouldn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a manual, so to it is with finances; action is what excites.

How are you empowering your members to use the financial stereo system efficiently?

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