MADISON, Wis. -- Two of the country's most courted demographics continue to elude the grasp of the credit union industry although strides are being made.
The groups--baby boomers preparing to retire and the 18-30-year olds that make up Generation Y--are the two segments in mind for new Web sites prepping for roll out from CUNA's Center for Personal Finance in July. The "Plan It" site is an online toolkit designed for 40- to 60-year olds seeking more in-depth information on retirement planning by letting them choose the formats that fit their learning styles and needs. The interactive tools will help members create a personal profile, adjust variables to see how changes made now can improve finances later, and participate in real-time ask-the-audience responses to real- life couples dealing with pre-retirement challenges, according to CUNA.
Members can also track their own retirement savings, print personalized charts, and make their own retirement to-do checklists. Information also will be provided as articles, tips, videos, podcasts, blogs, and more.
"One of the big motivations [for launching the site] is people are frozen into inaction," said Jan Garkey, special materials editor in CUNA's Center for Personal Finance. "They aren't doing enough planning or just not doing anything. And, some just don't know what to do because there's so much information or choices, they don't know where to start. We want to give people options so they'll say 'I can do something.'"
One section on the Plan It site will feature five actors in "Pre-Retirement Lane," a takeoff of Wisteria Lane, the infamous street from ABC's Desperate Housewives show, Garkey said. Here, actors playing five characters will go through "real issues" as they face retirement whether it is a small business start-up, caring for aging parents or estate planning.
Another section dealing with "financial longevity," will show users how much money they will need for retirement based on their current situation. Garkey said they can change some of the variables including what would happen if there is a decrease in savings or how much time they plan to spend in actual retirement.
With the plethora of retirement planning sites already out there on the Web, one would think they're providing valuable and usable information. But according to a 2006 study, 39% surveyed had less than $50,000 in savings for retirement, said Jim Hanson, vice president of CUNA's Center for Personal Finance. Credit unions are more than prepared to fill in the gaps, he added.
"Credit unions have a good hold of people in their 50s," Hanson said. "Traditionally, it's been hard to maintain relationships with them as the move into retirement primarily because [these members] tend to look into consolidating their accounts."
Another group the industry is trying to reach is Generation Y. CUNA is also launching a new Web site titled "MoneyMix." The site combines financial tools and information targeted specifically at the young adult market ages 18-30 to help credit unions to better communicate and educate this market, according to CUNA. The four major issues of pressing concern to this demographic are debt management, money management, asset building and credit worthiness, said Josh Jones, manager of young adult programs in CUNA's Center for Personal Finance.
"What it really boils down to is there are a lot of resources out there but you really have to sift through so much and find topics that are relevant to your situation," said Jones, who, at age 27, leaned on his own experiences and those of his friends when CUNA hired him a year ago to oversee MoneyMix.
Jones said the needs of Generation Y are so broad and unfortunately, many of them are failing to manage their savings.
"What they're saying is 'I need help,'" Jones said on the motivation for launching MoneyMix.
Like Plan It, MoneyMix can be customized to the user's goals and needs. The "Easy Budget" section strives not to fall into the "daunting" trap of other sites, Jones said.
To keep the tone relevant to how Gen Yers communicate, writers will fall into the 18-30 age group, Jones pointed out: "They want people who will speak with them, not at them."
Garkey said several credit unions will beta test both sites starting July 31. For more details, log on to http://buy.cuna.org/static/plan_it.html.