Mountain America Seeks To Build Niche With Services Targeted At Women

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Mountain America Federal Credit Union has launched its own financial education program tailored to women's business and personal needs.

The Mountain America's Women's Financial Services Network (WFSN) will provide female members with services and products designed to assist them in various stages of their lives.

Mountain America states that WFSN's core purpose is to "foster trusted relationships, enhancing women's financial education and well-being."

Annette Zimmerman is CIO for the $1.6-billion CU and will also serve as SVP for the new network. Zimmerman had been tasked with learning about financial education available to area women and spent time with local Chambers of Commerce, seminars and professional organizations. Mountain America had already taken part in financial education programs at the YWCA, and helped sponsor awards luncheons and receptions aimed at women. Being a large SBA lender, Mountain America decided it was time to formalize its collection of financial programs.

"We're packaging what we have and targeting women," she said. "If we have some products and services labeled for them, they'll give us a try."

Zimmerman said women tend to be very loyal members, especially regarding products and services designed just for them. The credit union believes WFSN will build loyalty among Mountain America's 205,000 members, who are the main focus for 2006, she said.

"No other credit union is doing this in our marketplace," Zimmerman said. "Women in our area are seeking this information."

WFSN focuses on four groups of women and then provides the appropriate products and services for each:

* Young adults-high school or college students

* Heads of households-mothers, divorcees, singles, widows and wives

* Professional women

* New and existing business owners

Financial education ideas include a newsletter speaker's bureau, how-to kits, booklets and information on a website. Among the specific products being offered are a credit card/debit card, insurance, investment services, and SBA and other small business services.

As an example, the credit card set to debut will feature more feminine designs and text, Zimmerman said. Women using the WFSN credit card will also be able to make a donation to their favorite charity. "Donating to charity appeals to women," she said. "Over the next year we'll be rolling out new products and services."

Zimmerman said Mountain America is examining holding a women's expo next year and starting a mentoring program.

SVP for Marketing Brent Lawrence said WFSN is not a new division within Mountain America, but will be a part of each branch and section. No separate logo has been created, rather, it uses the CU logo with WFSN text in a more feminine font. Lawrence and Zimmerman said employees have quickly taken to the new program and are eager to start.

"I think the enthusiasm has been very high. Staff is coming up with new ideas all the time," Lawrence said.

Zimmerman said WFSN will also help provide area women with an increased voice in their community.

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