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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.

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