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BOULDER, Colo. – Underscoring a hard-hitting approach to member education, the $600-million U of C Federal Credit Union has hired Atlanta consumer advocate Remar Sutton to do newsletter columns on finance and car buying and to appear in local seminars providing “unbiased” guidance to members on consumer issues. The hiring of Sutton, an author and columnist for the Washington Post and co-founder of the national Consumer Task Force for Automotive Issues and of Privacy Rights Now Coalition, a group dealing with automotive fraud, coincides with a revamp of U of C’s member communications U of C pegged its team-up with Sutton as being extraordinary among CUs and banks. In a U of C news release, Sutton called the linkup a “rarity” since “I’m not aware of any other financial institution that is taking consumer education to this level.” Sutton, whose advice columns will appear in redesigned CU newsletters which avoid a conventional product-heavy approach, was to make several Boulder appearances July 8-9 including a seminar on car buying at a Boulder hotel open to the public. Radio interviews were also being set up for Sutton, and he is to speak at “brown-bag” seminars for University of Colorado students and for a July 8 session for employees of the U.S. Department of Commerce-Bureau of Standards which has operations here. Bill Sterner, president/CEO of the 72,000-member U of C, said the CU’s new approach to consumer education is distinctive since “our goal is to help our members and the community make good consumer choices.” “We realized that for the consumer, it isn’t about the car loan or the mortgage loan, it’s about getting honest information on how to make a good car or home buying decision,” explained Sterner. Sutton’s consumer advice, he said, is part of the CU’s new “RealityCheck” program which “is not about selling” products or services. “Our idea is to help our members make solid decisions, whether or not they are dealing with us.” Hence, “Remar Sutton will be the objective third-party consumer voice for our RealityCheck program,” explained Sterner. Sutton is the author of “Don’t Get Taken Every Time,” a best seller about the inner workings of the automobile sales industry. His column “Body Worry” is widely syndicated to major newspapers including The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the Portland Oregonian. Sutton has also appeared on talk shows including 20/20, Today, CNN, Good Morning America and NPR’s All Things Considered. Rich Jones, vice president of marketing at U of C, said the CU’s redesign of its newsletters targeting them to specific age brackets coincides with landing Sutton as a U of C spokesman on consumer matters. He said the CU’s marketing committee made a decision last year to reduce the “hyperbole and the white noise” in CU product advertising. CU management, he said, felt consumers were confused and overwhelmed by the “zero based” ad pitches for new vehicle buyers and lower rate-fee ads even on bank and CU window signage. U of C., he said, felt it could serve a role in trying to clear “some of the disturbing” advertising. Jones said Sterner, a former senior vice president of CUNA Mutual, had come into contact with Sutton and recommended he be used in the CU’s new marketing approach. Since hiring Sutton, the CU has also moved ahead with redesigning the newsletters including a column by the Atlanta author in each of the monthly newsletters-designed for three age brackets: “It’s Your Money” for 18-35 year olds; “Building Families”-35-45 and “Time for Life”-45 and up. Sutton’s columns addressing each of these segments will appear in the CU’s newsletters, said Jones. Previously, U of C had one monthly newsletter that emphasized product promotions interspersed with consumer advice. “We’re already getting positive comments and we know that based on requests we are getting for extra copies from our branches,” said Jones. The newsletters carry diverse articles, he said, on everything from “helmet warnings to avoid injuries for bicycle riders” in the Building Families edition (“We have lots of bike riders in Boulder thanks to the University of Colorado”) as well as 401k advice to those starting new careers in the “Time for Life” issue. In August much of the consumer data on home and car buying will be posted on the CU’s “RealityCheck” Web site, said Jones. “Last year over 4,000 single family homes were purchased in Boulder County, 2,331 marriage certificates were granted and approximately 1,500 students graduated from high school,” declared Sterner in the news release. “These major life events carry important decisions with significant financial implications requiring sound financial information. Our goal is to help our members and the community, make good consumer choices.” -

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