Credit unions and banks are in the business of delivering financial services, and one of the greatest services you can deliver is education. Helping your users gain an understanding of their finances and how they can best be managed is one of the most meaningful ways you can demonstrate a user-first philosophy.
Money Is a Big Problem
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of money worries as a source of stress. A 2019 survey commissioned by Bankrate.com found that financial concerns were the biggest reason Americans lose sleep, ahead even of relationships, health and workplace issues.
It’s especially interesting that while big-picture issues like stock market volatility and the cost of education made the list of financial concerns, the biggest single worry among survey respondents was simply everyday expenses.
This isn’t confined to those with lower incomes. A 2019 survey by Merrill Lynch found that even a majority of relatively affluent Americans lose sleep over financial concerns and have postponed significant life goals in order to improve their financial position.
The Effects Are Significant
“Losing sleep” isn’t just a metaphor; it’s a literal and worrying fact of life. Stress-induced sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety and depression, either or both of which impair decision-making and productivity, which in turn can lead to more stress. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle that can be difficult to break.
The impacts are far-reaching, potentially affecting work performance, relationships and even physical health. Helping your users find their way forward may be the most important thing you do for them.
The Role of Financial Wellness
For consumers, learning to manage financial health is analogous to managing physical health. Both are complex topics with a head-turning variety of subspecialties and often-conflicting advice, even from recognized authorities, but in both cases it’s possible even for a lay person to learn how to do the right things.
In the area of physical health, that might mean eating more vegetables, staying mentally and physically active, and avoiding foods and habits — like smoking — that are known to be unhealthy. There will always be a risk of unpredictable accidents or illness, but if you do the right things every day you give your body its best chance to overcome those obstacles. This is what health-industry figures mean when they speak of “wellness.”
There’s no one financial wellness definition, because every adviser will phrase the concept a bit differently. In 2015 the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau defined it as having control of day-to-day finances, having the ability to cope with a financial shock, being on track to meet financial goals and having the freedom to enjoy life.
Getting to that stage often simply comes down to doing the right things from day to day. Financial organizations, because of their emphasis on building relationships with users, are positioned to guide them into financial wellness.
You Have Tools to Draw On
User education should already be a part of your credit union or bank’s long-term strategy, so you shouldn’t have to create an entire suite of consumer-facing materials from scratch. The internet and financial-industry publications are overflowing with sound, user-focused advice on almost every imaginable financial topic.
Choose a few reliable sources that don’t conflict with your organization’s ethos and incorporate them into your own materials or link to them directly in your own social media posts, blogs or user newsletters.
Your in-house expertise is another resource. Many of your staff may be knowledgeable on specific topics or be uniquely gifted at explaining financial concepts in ways your members find easy to understand. Offer them opportunities and incentives to develop and share that knowledge with your members. If it fits within your budget constraints, consider sending staff to seminars or bringing in speakers to hold training sessions for staff or users at your location.
Don’t Neglect Technology
The ideal scenario includes a financial professional monitoring your finances and offering skilled advice at all times, but that option is only available to the very wealthy. One way to bridge that gap is through technology.
The best financial technology products, such as Lumin Digital’s banking software for financial institutions, go beyond simply providing a way to bank from a computer or mobile device. The native cloud-based software keeps seamless track of your users’ activity across all platforms and devices, which means it’s also a peerless tool for suggesting products and services that fit your users’ individual needs and wants.
Those suggestions don’t just nudge members in the direction of your services, though that’s certainly important; by prompting your end users to take appropriate measures at appropriate times, the software also powerfully reinforces the financial wellness message.
Contact us today to request a demonstration of the product, and learn how it can appeal to both sides of your clientele: those who want the full suite of services you have to offer; and those who simply want a fast, friction-free digital banking experience.