Stanford FCU Uses Technology to Hold Onto Student Membership
The credit union is launching a personal financial management platform, CreditUnion HQ from Geezeo, a Hartford, Conn.-based software service provider for banks and credit unions. The goal is to provide young members with all the technological resources other financial institutions offer so they don't leave the credit union when they graduate.
"With Geezeo's suite of PFM modules, we will be able to offer our Gen Y members some conveniences that they have come to expect in their daily lives. The tools that will be offered on our Web site, will also be offered via all Web-enabled mobile devices. We will also look to producing iPhone and Blackberry applications down the line as well," said Ali Shafai, vice president of eCommerce at Stanford FCU.
CreditUnion HQ has a Facebook look and feel to it that allows members to create a budget, savings goals and alerts that can be sent via text, e-mail or RSS feed. Alerts can be a notification that the member is low in a certain budgeted area, a reminder to pay a bill or that a certain savings goal has been achieved.
"Every alert system has notifications that you've spent money or are low on funds, but I think it's just as important to communicate positive messages, too," said Geezeo co-founder Peter Glyman as to why they create the option to have savings goal alerts.
As soon as a member signs onto the platform, he or she is greeted with updates of the latest transactions and the status of the savings goals. Members can create goals for things like saving for a vacation, paying off credit card debt or saving for a house and link it to an account at the credit union. They can set the amount they want to achieve and a date by which they want to reach their goal.
When creating their budget, members put in their income, fixed costs and spending targets, which are variable expenses. The link to the members' account at the credit union allows the platform to notify members how much they have been spending each month on different variable expenses, such as eating out, so they can have a better idea of what goals to set.
"For a young adult just getting out on their own, it's about getting control of their expenses. This tool helps because they can stop and say, 'Wow, that's how much I've been spending on food,'" Glyman said.
To help credit unions achieve the social networking style of Twitter and Facebook, the Geezeo platform also has a community section.
The section can be made private just for credit union members to post questions and share answers they have about savings and financial topics.
The section has a status update look like Twitter and Facebook and the member can open this section and see what questions they have open and what questions were answered.
Members can also rate answers on how helpful they were and select the best answer. Members with a high frequency of best answer nods become community experts.
"We believe our Gen Y members will find the community feature valuable in managing their financial lives. The reason that graduates leave the credit union is because they typically leave the Stanford community and prefer to have a financial institution near where they will be living and working. Our hope with the introduction of the Geezeo PFM and related modules is to present a compelling case to the Gen Y member that they don't have to leave the credit union once they have left Stanford University and the immediate area," Shafai said.
The community section also has an expert area where the credit union appoints employees or experts in a certain field to answer questions posted by members. Experts can range from the credit union CEO to a local real estate expert.
In the MoneyTalks section members can also share bad and good financial choices they've made.
"Having these tools within a financial organization should retain members longer. When a student leaves college, there's that 'ah ha' moment where all of a sudden they need to know where their money is going. These are tools that they might have otherwise gone to a third party for."