Increasing Investment Service Usage Among Members
You do what?' is a common question asked by members when they learn that investment services are available at their credit union. Although these services have been offered in financial institutions since 1981, many credit unions have been slow to embrace the programs, with only 16% of credit unions having offered investment programs for 15 years or more, according to Callahan & Associates’ 2010 Credit Union Retail Investment Services Study.
If we agree that investment advice is an important service for members, how do we make sure that they are taking advantage of it? First, credit unions need to commit to offering the program; it must be a core product. This needs to come from the top down, with senior management making it clear to the staff that it’s an important component of the services provided. The establishment of a referral program that recognizes and compensates for qualified referrals illustrates the commitment of a credit union to the success of the program.
If a credit union has accepted the necessity of offering the program, how do they inform the members of the offering? In addition to employee referral goals, appropriate branch signage is essential in program recognition, but many members seldom go into a branch. A growing number use ATMs and online or mobile banking. So, how do you reach them?
Marketing plays a key role in getting the word out. ATM and on-hold messages are an easy start. But the program needs to be prominently displayed on the credit union’s website, subject to certain disclosures of course. Again, it’s a core product. It should not require the member to be familiar with the program to find it online, but it needs to be obvious to those visiting your site. Ideally, there should be one-click access to the program’s site. In addition, targeted print marketing will assist in program recognition. Print ads can be used to introduce this service as an offering available at the credit union. Target marketing can also increase public familiarity with the program. Educational seminars give something back to the member while showcasing the services.