Two-Thirds Of CUs In Survey Say Education Becoming Higher Priority

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Two-thirds of credit unions responding to a new nationwide survey indicated educational programs have become a higher priority in the past year, and six out of ten said they are considering offering additional new topics in the coming year.

The trend reflects the expansion of more credit unions into their respective communities, according to Callahan & Associates, which conducted the study. "More open charters are leading to broader member bases and an array of groups with different needs and interests," said Callahan's which has published its findings in a white paper entitled "Credit Union Member Education Strategies."

The report is based on the survey developed in cooperation with San Francisco-based Financial Finesse, a financial education company.

According to Callahan's, the study found that member education topics are expanding beyond the credit union standbys of auto purchase, home ownership and basic budgeting to include emerging topics such as financial literacy programs for young people, and money management or investment classes for women.

Education on home ownership, however, which was cited by nine out of 10 respondents, remains among the most popular topics, as do financial planning and retirement planning, which are offered by more than 80% of responding credit unions.

While most programs in the responding credit unions remain face-to-face seminars, some credit unions reported they are looking at changing formats and delivery channels to include more online methods in order to better reach members.

"Education is important in reinforcing credit unions' role as their members' trusted financial partner," said Jay Johnson, executive vice president of Callahan's.

The survey was sent online to marketing executives at 1,300 U.S. credit unions with assets of at least $30 million. Responding credit unions serve 4.2 million members in 30 states and have $39.4 billion in assets representing 6.6% of industry assets. More than half these 80 credit unions have between $100 million and $499 million in assets. Selected survey respondents and industry leaders were interviewed by phone and specific case studies are part of the final report, Callahan's said.

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