Thursday, June 26, 2008

Offering Budget Assistance to Build Loyalty

The following post was written by Aubrey Knorr, a teller at Maine State Credit Union. She has been with the credit union for a year and a half and has been a great member of the MSCU team. Enjoy!

Finances are on everyone’s mind lately.

Stock Photos

Due to the rising prices in our economy, we all are trying to re-write our budgets to cut out all of the pointless and unnecessary spending. We are re-thinking what’s really important. Unfortunately, setting a budget and actually sticking to it are not strengths that a lot of people have.

As a credit union, it’s our job to help our members to the best of our ability. Most credit unions don’t have actual financial advisors to assist members with these matters; there is a way to help our members in this area using the employees that we already have.

Many employees already know how to analyze and manipulate numbers. This talent can be utilized by placing them into a position that would enable them to sit with members and plan out budgets that the member can stick to, based on the members own income and expenses.

In a world of rising gas, food, and energy costs, on top of loans, credit cards (about 15% of people have more than $10,000 in debt!), childcare, and working long hours, our members need our help. If we can help them to consolidate and cut back with a budget that they can stick to, they will learn to trust us with any of their financial needs.

It will help us to gain more members with more accounts, and a lot of loyal people who will always come to where they are best served. Every credit union and bank has loans to offer and accounts to use, but how many have people that actually sit down with the member and go over their financial assets and needs with them?

We need to start looking at the newest needs of our members, and that is coping with the ever-changing fluctuation of the economy.

3 comments:

Tony G said...

Great post Aubrey. This kind of thinking is exactly what makes credit unions different from banks. We should all make sure that our employees are familiar with the credit union philosiphy as a whole.

If you have the time you may be interested in reading the following from the CUNA, Inc.

In 1935, when credit unions were helping Americans through the Great Depression, the treasurer of a Midwestern credit union said that credit unions were "not for profit, not for charity, but for service," and that philosophy holds true today.

Credit unions continue to look out for their members’ interests and provide a level of service that is not generally available at other financial institutions. Whether it’s providing a loan to help a member cover unexpected medical bills, giving financial counseling to a member whose company closed its doors, or simply offering a better deal on a used car loan, credit unions make a difference for their members and the communities they serve.

The CUNA Cooperative Alliances Committee has developed seven cooperative principles that reflect this commitment to serving members and their communities. These principles were inspired by the Rochdale Principles, which were named after the first successful co-op, founded in Rochdale England in the 1840s.

Seven Cooperative Principles for Credit Unions
1. Voluntary Membership
Credit unions are voluntary, cooperative organizations, offering services to people willing to accept the responsibilities and benefits of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Many cooperatives, such as credit unions, operate as not-for-profit institutions with volunteer board of directors. In the case of credit unions, members are drawn from defined fields of membership.

2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations owned and controlled by their members, one member one vote, with equal opportunity for participation in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members are the owners. As such they contribute to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the transactions with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

For credit unions, which typically offer better rates, fees and service than for-profit financial institutions, members recognize benefits in proportion to the extent of their financial transactions and general usage.

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the cooperative enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the member and maintains the cooperative autonomy.

5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative.

Credit unions place particular importance on educational opportunities for their volunteer directors, and financial education for their members and the public, especially the nation’s youth. Credit unions also recognize the importance of ensuring the general public and policy makers are informed about the nature, structure and benefits of cooperatives.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, state, regional, national, and international structures.

7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities, including people of modest means, through policies developed and accepted by the members.

These seven principles are founded in the philosophy of cooperation and its central values of equality, equity and mutual self-help. They express, around the world, the principles of human development and the brotherhood of man through people working together to achieve a better life for themselves and their community.

Copyright © 2008 - Credit Union National Association, Inc.

Andy said...

Tony, awesome comment. Thanks for posting the co-op principals. They are something that every employee at a credit union should know and hopefully believe in.

Mikhaila Clements said...

Great post. My credit union offered me a free financial advising session before I started college and I found it to be invaluable. With all the new expenses of living at home a good budget was just what I needed.
Tropical Financial Credit Union, http://www.tropicalfcu.org really helped me.