The statistics are grim: Financial health challenges continue to confront more than 60% of Americans and, frustratingly, research reflects that the credit union employee population mirrors these daunting findings. As reported by the Financial Health Network, millennials now make up the largest workforce in the country at 72 million people, but they control less than 5% of U.S. wealth. Economic and financial health disparities have widened across race and income and persist across gender.
The good news is that, collectively, the credit union industry has the determination, fortitude, and wherewithal to make an impact. As a movement, credit unions whose founding heritage is the business of financial well-being have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by focusing on improving employees’ and members’ financial health.
Credit unions have data and community connections that allow them to craft and implement strategies to take action. The National Credit Union Foundation, for example, has a wealth of resources on financial well-being. The better prepared credit union employees are to manage their own financial health, the better the outcome in servicing members. The business case is clear: The healthier members are, the more satisfied they will be with their credit union as their primary financial institution, and the more products and services they will utilize.
To Manage It, You Have To Measure It
Surveys to gauge employees’ and members’ financial health provide a baseline and starting point for action. Data to understand the pain points both employees and members are experiencing will guide which actions you should take, some of which may be promoting tools already available in your toolbox.
Financial counseling, balance transfer campaigns, behavior modification nudges and alerts built into payment tools and digital banking platforms all aim to improve the financial health of members. Predictive analytics can help identify those members headed for financial hardship and allow for the credit union to intercede.
And now, with consumer acceptance of the digitization of money accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, credit unions are positioned to also look to the cloud for deploying high-quality solutions that address needs related to how members and employees spend, save, borrow, and plan in ways that set them up for success.
At PSCU, a payments technology CUSO built, owned, and governed by credit unions, we are committed to the financial well-being of both our employees and the extended credit union community. In line with this, PSCU adopted finance wellness as our overarching corporate philanthropy cause last year. To make an impact externally, we knew that we must first focus internally by providing our team members with tools and resources for money management, savings and investing, understanding credit scores and more – all to promote and sustain financial health.
Our commitment to financial well-being also required addressing pay practices. Aligned with our financial well-being pledge and commitment to ensure fair and equitable pay practices, PSCU raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the organization, a move that significantly exceeds both federal and state mandates in all locations. While the increase is quite simply the right thing to do, it will also enable us to better retain, attract, and motivate the highly skilled, diverse workforce needed to deliver on our mission of serving credit unions and their members. It is an avenue that all credit unions should explore.
As PSCU supports the success of 1,500 credit unions nationwide, we are steadfast in addressing how the payments, digital, and contact center solutions we deliver can serve as a vehicle for credit union action to deliver on the heritage of financial wellness for employees and members.
Merry Pateuk is Senior Vice President, Industry Engagement at PSCU. Since 1989, she has served in a wide range of senior leadership roles at PSCU, each of which were critical to building the company’s reputation, brand, and industry stature. Her efforts in various roles have helped take the company from a start-up with a single line of business to an industry leader, servicing hundreds of credit unions nationwide with multiple product lines.