Success Stories In Financial Planning Share Strategies

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Credit unions that have built successful programs in financial planning and investment services shared lessons they've learned along the way here.

Their insights were presented to more than 50 senior executives from 47 credit unions and CUSOs that are users of MEMBERS Financial Services as part of the third annual sales management meeting sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group. More than 450 credit unions nationwide utilize CUNA Mutual's MEMBERS Financial Services program.

In a workshop presentation, Alan Musselman, CFO at First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union, Bethlehem, Penn., said credit union management support is one of the key ingredients for program success. "It is vitally important, from the CEO on down, that staff understands what the program is all about-how it helps members, and its fee income impact on the credit union's bottom line," Musselman said. "A financial services program needs to be integrated into the credit union so much so that it becomes a core service and not an add-on."

First Commonwealth has operated a MEMBERS Financial Services program for four years and has $78 million assets under management. It has seven full-time employees working for its MEMBERS Financial Services program.

Meanwhile, Carol Humenick, EVP with Atlantic Credit Union, Newtown Square, Penn., cited four factors needed for success: management involvement, staff education, staff motivation and measurement.

"We see this program as a key relationship builder and member retention factor, but it only works well when your staff supports it," Humenick said. Atlantic compensates its employees $30 for every referral that results in an appointment with one of its two MEMBERS Financial Services representatives. "Our initial program paid just for making the referral," Humenick said.

"We found that only 10% to 15% of referrals actually made appointments. Then, we changed it to pay only when a referred member actually made an appointment. Our employees began to ask better open-ended questions about members' needs and suddenly we were booking 25% of referrals for appointments." Atlantic's MEMBERS Financial Services program has $70 million in assets under management.

Frequent promotions and contests keep their MEMBERS Financial Services message fresh, she said. "We send e-mail quizzes to staff, and a prize patrol delivers rewards for correct answers," Humenick said. "A couple times a year we have 'MEMFS Month' where staff hands out informational materials and make promotional materials more visible in our lobbies. We also have a basketball-themed March Madness competition. It's never a hard sell with staff, just gentle reminders of the program so it remains top of mind." Classroom and online training, plus coaching, also keeps staff motivated, Humenick said.

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