Planning can actually be a lot of fun. Think about the last vacation or party you coordinated where everything went just right. Remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride you, the planner, had afterwards. People thanked you for the hard work and the time you put into hosting such a wonderful event. What if you could have the same sensational feeling the day after your retirement party? You wake up the next day knowing you planned it out just right. Sounds good, but, unfortunately, too many credit union members and employees are only hoping to attain their goals because they are not prepared. As Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
In today's environment, many credit unions are living quarter to quarter, which makes it difficult to maintain a long-term perspective. However, the credit union leaders who stay focused on being the members' financial advocate will survive and come out of 2010 even stronger. During up and down markets and in good times and bad, there are always opportunities. The opportunity for 2010 will be to help solve real financial problems by getting financial plans into the hands of more employees and members.
The people plus processes equals profits formula is the key to helping our employees and members plan for 2010 and beyond.
People. Take extra care this year to hire people who are not afraid to introduce members to the wonderful solutions the credit union already offers. The CEO must clearly articulate to all hiring managers what skill sets are expected in terms of sales. Another simple formula to remember is no sales equals no credit union. It is that simple. Up-train existing staff (again) about the credit union difference and its value proposition. The member-serving employees need to show concern for the members by making certain members are utilizing all the great products and services available.
Today, at your credit union, too many members walked out, logged out or hung up having only a transactional relationship. In 2010 and beyond, the member-serving staff will need to search for more ways to help the member than just the task at hand.
Hiring high-quality people doesn't just mean tellers and member service representatives. It starts with the executive team and includes branch managers, financial advisers and the business development teams.
Remember, offering investments is not the same as offering true financial planning. Both members and regulators are becoming increasingly savvy to the difference. So, having a mutual fund and annuity salesperson is not enough. Your employees and members deserve independent quality advisers who give independent, quality advice.
Process. Your staff will need to have the products and services available they feel comfortable introducing to members. Maybe it is balance for those struggling in a difficult economy (debt counseling) and maybe it is a online planning program for the baby boomers who are dealing with kids (in college), parents (needing long-term care) and their own issues (retirement). With 40% to 60% of your membership utilizing online banking and the phone center, it is imperative that we offer an online financial planning tool in 2010 and beyond. What really matters is that we as an industry need to get more financial plans in the hands of more employees and members. Having multiple planning tools available also enables the staff to provide the right solution at the right time.
This will allow more people to get a better understanding of their current financial situation, run a variety of what if scenarios and a vision into their future. Only then, can they start dealing with their financial reality and really begin planning for their retirement parties. After completing a financial plan, your members will be more educated, loyal and profitable.
Profits. Most of us have seen studies by Raddon stating the more products you have with a member, the more loyal and profitable they become. A comprehensive financial plan will address lending products (mortgages, auto loans and credit cards); investments (401(k)s, IRAs, stocks and bonds); insurance (home, auto, life, disability and long-term care); and estate planning services (wills and trusts). Each of these products can generate fee income for the credit union while solving a problem for the member. Think about how many members have their investments or 401(k)s elsewhere, who are getting their home and auto insurance from Farmers, State Farm or Allstate or who are living without a will or a trust.
In my opinion, 100% of our members need a financial advocate, and now is the time for us as an industry to step up with easy to use and affordable in-branch and online solutions.
Michael Prior is president/CEO of Credit Union Financial Network. He can be reached at 800-405-8850 or firstname.lastname@example.org