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ORLANDO, Fla. – Despite financial education being a “hot topic,” U.S. credit unions are missing the mark in failing to put literacy at the top of their marketing strategy, according to a Minnesota marketer and former staffer at the Kansas Credit Union Association. Being truly involved in financial education “means more than an `event’ here and there,” maintained LeAnn Achtenberg, a speaker at CUNA’s Marketing & Business Development Conference. Getting involved with schools and offering youth savings remain ways for CUs to get started in financial literacy, she stressed and yet CUs need to look at a broader scope of back office operations to ensure all products and services are backed up with an education underpinning. In considering the CU image, “people want to feel empowered respecting those that give them the tools to do so,” she said adding, “this ultimately helps consumers make the choice between your credit union and your competition.” Achtenberg is assistant vice president of marketing at Anoka Hennepin CU in Coon Rapids, Minn. Also at the conference, CU marketers dipped into their wallets and pocketbooks in record amounts to come up with $6,000 for hurricane victims. “We’re thrilled to raise that amount in a silent auction, which was double from last year,” said Brynn Ammon, charity coordinator for the council and director of business development and marketing at Seaboard CU in Jacksonville, Fla. Prizes auctioned off included everything from a Jaguar Football jacket to a Land of Oz goody basket donated by a Kansas CU. Also in the gift group was a free registration to CUNA’s Future Forum in June. The funds are being forwarded to the National Credit Union Foundation for hurricane disaster relief, said Ammon, noting also the Gulf Coast fund raising was fitting in light of CUNA moving the conference from its original site in New Orleans. Nearly 400 attended the Orlando meeting held at the Caribe Royale Hotel. Michael Weber, chairman of the CUNA Marketing Council and vice president of Dupaco Community CU in Dubuque, Iowa, said next year’s meeting will be in Las Vegas, but the council may return to New Orleans by 2008. -

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