New Year’s Resolution: Help Members Live Life Fully

USAlliance Financial embraces a new motto and finds small ways to make a big difference in the lives of members.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • USAlliance’s brand has evolved to encourage long-term financial health and good money management habits versus pursuing happiness alone.
  • With a diverse membership, the motto Live Life Fully means something different to everyone but connects with all demographics.

It’s been approximately one year since USAlliance Financial Federal Credit Union ($1.6B, Rye, NY) began using the tagline, Live Life Fully.

Beyond a simple branding exercise, the new motto has real-life implications as the credit union refreshes its product suite to lead with the most financially healthy options. Here, CEO Kris VanBeek shares the thinking behind Live Life Fully, member reaction to it, and how it’s making a difference in everything from new hire orientation to marketing communications.



USAlliance Financial FCU
Data as of 09.30.18

HQ: Rye, NY
MEMBERS: 116,312
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 22.6%
ROA: 0.93%

What’s the idea behind the Live Life Fully tagline?

Kris VanBeek: It was a natural evolution from our former tagline, Pursue Happiness. We had good traction with that, but the idea of pursuing happiness might or might not be good in the long run. For example, I might feel happy in the short term eating a lot of chocolate but develop health problems in the long term.

The senior team decided last year to make the change to Live Life Fully. It has a similar meaning that is more responsible overall. How to live life fully is important but different for everyone. Our membership base is diverse and includes Fortune 500 executives to members of modest means from the inner city. We might have one member with $10 million in their checking account and another with -$10, but we want to help them both live life fully. No matter how a member defines that term, we want to be part of the solution.

USAlliance prominently feaures its new motto, Life Life Fully,on its homepage

Did USAlliance add products or services to ensure it was serving members throughout their lives?

KV: We have a lot of different products, and as we review and update them, we give them a new MyLife account designation. Today, we have half a dozen different products under the MyLife umbrella. These are newer, better products. For example, MyLife Checking is our best checking account option. We still offer other solutions, but we try to promote the solution that is the best for the member. That’s what MyLife products represent, and that’s why we are leading with them.

The credit union’s MyLife Checking is one example of its newly refined, financially healthy products positioned around the Life Life Fullymotto.

How have members responded to the Live Life Fully concept?

KV: Members have responded positively. Our marketing team has done a great job communicating and displaying it.

Members and even non-members are excited about our new logo wear that features the phrase Live Life Fully and uses a creative font with red, white, and blue. It’s the look but also the verbiage that seems to resonate with folks.

Everywhere we go restaurants, gyms, theme parks people ask us how they can get the shirt, and it gives us a chance to talk about the credit union. In some instances, I’ve had employees literally take the shirt off their back and give it to someone in the community. To me, that means this idea is catching on and making a difference.

How have staff members responded to the concept?

KV: The staff has responded well. One of the first assignments new hires have during orientation is to draw their definition of what it means to Live Life Fully. There are some common themes a house, an education, or walking down the aisle but it’s always something personal and meaningful to that employee.

Live Life Fully has also changed the way we talk internally. The senior management team meets new hires for lunch at the credit union, and the first question they ask us is, What is your definition of Live Life Fully?’

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What else has changed because of this new way of thinking?

KV: Our general philosophy is to find little things that make a difference to people. Credit unions offer relatively commoditized products, but if we can add a My Life element that helps members live life fully, then that’s the difference. Whether it is storing important documents securely in a virtual strongbox, checking a free credit score every month, or receiving a direct deposit two days early, we want to help members live life fully.

Another small example is pet insurance. There was a significant need for a solution there, so the credit union now offers pet health insurance. For a lot of folks, having a healthy pet is part of their definition of how to live life fully.

Another way we differentiate is by offering specialized lending. Whether members want to become a pilot, own a boat, or purchase an aircraft, our specialty loans find creative solutions to make it happen. It’s worked well. We’ve found a natural synergy to bring cooperative values to new markets we weren’t traditionally serving.

Our general philosophy is to find little things that make a difference to people.

Kris VanBeek, CEO, USAlliance Financial FCU

What advice do you have for ways to help members live life fully?

KV: The profile of every credit union’s membership is a little different, but my advice is to look at short-term and long-term trends and remain aware of your members’ needs. Sometimes there’s a disaster that makes you aware of an immediate need, but other needs can be subtle.

For us, Hurricane Sandy hit our core membership base in New York hard. We had no power for 28 days. The credit union had generators, so we had the branches open for members to charge their phones once we got power back. It sounds silly, but you’d be shocked by how many members came in to charge up.

We knew there were a lot of boats damaged in the storm. We didn’t do boat lending back then, but members had a need. We filled in, and it’s gotten bigger and bigger. The specialty lending initially came from a pure membership need driven by a disaster. Today, it’s grown into something that helps members live life fully. Sometimes, it’s simply about adjusting and making lemonade out of lemons. You can start with little needs and grow from there.


December 10, 2018

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