Monday, May 22, 2017

Webinar: New Ways to Teach Employees about Their 401(k) Plans

Research: Financial Worries Distract One in Three Employees at Work

According to the 2017 PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey, one in three U.S. workers are distracted at work by their personal financial issues—and almost half of these people say they spend three or more hours per week thinking about these issues.1

The more you can help your employees allay financial fears such as a lack of sufficient retirement savings, the more productive they can be. And merely providing a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k) isn’t enough. 

According to PLANSPONSOR’s 2016 Participant Survey, four in 10 employees with access to a defined contribution plan want more financial education at work.2

However, our new webinar “Top Trends inRetirement Education at Credit Unions” examines how the annual all-employee 401(k) enrollment meeting isn’t cutting it anymore—even as research shows that employees need and want more information from employers about saving for retirement.

Susan Reynolds, Director at CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions, uses case studies and proven best practices that demonstrate how to tailor retirement education for your credit union. 
She features two key points that can enhance the learning experience for staff members:

  1. You have to get the attention of a diverse employee group. Reynolds explains how to target communications to specific groups and cost-effectively expand the educational tools available to them.

  2. Group meetings and one-on-one sessions with professional retirement plan educators are still effective, but they no longer have to be face-to-face, Reynolds says. They can be augmented by on-demand, interactive learning tools, among other options. 

The case studies she features show how a few credit unions have found new ways to deliver the education employees seek.

  • One credit union used technology to leverage the expertise of plan provider educators. Employees were able to learn in groups, or one-on-one, according to their needs and preferences.

  • At one credit union, a particularly effective method is live a remote session showing how to use the plan provider's online retirement planning tools and answering employee questions. Employees also have the opportunity to ask questions of a specialist privately, which can be critical to employee involvement, Reynolds says.

  • And, another credit union was able to solve a timing problem, getting new employees the information they need before they enroll in their 401(k)—which wasn't happening with the credit union's existing qurterly meeting schedule. 

The online session shows you that, by adapting to individual learning styles, you can help employees learn faster how to use their retirement planning resources, with minimal interruption of their work schedule. 

And, the more they master how to save for retirement, the better it is for them and for your credit union

To learn more, follow this link to the recorded webinars in the Retirement Resource Center.

1.              “2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey,” ©2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP.
2.              “PLANSPONSOR 2016 Participant Survey,” ©2017, Strategic Insight, Incl.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Four Reasons Credit Unions are in a Great Position to Serve the Financial Needs of Women

On Mother's Day (and every day) we give thanks to all women for the significant role they play in our lives. This time of year, we tend to reflect on the positives our moms have brought to life for us—like unconditional love, heartfelt support and selfless guidance. Today, many women are also a powerful influence in their families’ finances. In fact, women in the United States:

We also know that 85 percent of women over the age of 40 has had one or more child. They are complex consumers with unique needs. Compared to men, research suggests that women:
  • Live longer.
  • Earn and save less. 
  • Are more likely to take career breaks to raise a family.
  • Invest more conservatively. 

With this in mind, it’s not hard to see that women are most likely to thrive with financial partners that not only understand their circumstances, but champion their financial well-being through every stage of life.

Below are four reasons why credit unions are in a great position to serve the financial needs of women.

Strong Female Representation in the C-Suite: According to a report from the Filene Research Institute, credit unions in the U.S. have a higher percentage of female CEOs than other institutions. In fact, 53 percent of all credit union CEOs are female, and 70 percent of all credit union employees in the U.S. are women. More women across the industry and in executive-level positions means that women are strongly represented in the decisions credit unions make and the services they provide.

Lower Fees: Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions. This means they can offer lower interest rates on loans and credit cards and higher rates on savings accounts and CDs. First and foremost, they exist to protect members’ financial security, which may be important for women who closely and carefully manage their families’ finances.

Champions of Financial Planning: Credit unions have their members' best interest in mind when it comes to financial literacy and planning. For women, this is significant since 92 percent are eager to learn about financial planning, yet only 47 percent are confident in talking money and investments with a professional. Studies show that women stress about money more than men and are more likely to seek financial advice for a change in life circumstances. They can trust their credit union to set them on the right financial track because, as members, they are the first priority—not helping shareholders make a profit.

Customer Focus: Research suggests that women desire a personal, human touch when it comes to banking. This is good news for credit unions since they are known for providing flexible and personal customer service. In fact, credit unions regularly earn the highest ranking for customer experience in the financial services industry. Many women will face a series of major events over the course of their lives, from having children, to taking temporary or permanent breaks in work, and providing care for aging parents. Credit unions have a member-focused philosophy and are there to support women through every life event.

From all of us at CUNA Mutual Group, have a very happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Top 3 Things Credit Unions Need To Know About Gamification

By Patrick McElhenie, Director, Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group
Note: This story originally published via the NAFCU Services Blog.

Engagement is the name of the game for gamification. Nearly 70% of US employees report that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work.
i With disengagement costing US employers $550 billion per year, having engaged employees is key for your credit union’s success.ii For the in-depth conversation about how much disengaged employees cost your credit union, listen to the podcast in full here

What is gamification?
Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game situations to engage audiences and solve problems. It’s not creating a game, but rather, looking at the elements of a game structure and applying them to the real world.
Gamification is all around us. A popular example of gamification is Fitbit fitness trackers. Fitbit users can check in on their goals, their activities, and their progress at any time, receiving instant feedback about their performance. Another example is loyalty programs in which customers earn points for their interactions with a company. Customers acquire points through purchases which they can then exchange for a reward after they meet a certain threshold.
How does gamification create engagement?
Engagement is a key component of the game structure. Games are extremely engaging and can hold a player’s attention for a long time. Engagement is created through clear objectives, scores, and rules. The player is never confused about what they have to do or how well they are doing.
Games avoid predictability and monotony while maintaining the element of surprise. There are also often social elements and competition. These elements are translated to the workplace in gamification. The goal is to get employees ultra-engaged and having fun by working to solve problems and achieve objectives.
What are the benefits of using gamification?
Gamification utilizes both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation methods to create engagement in the workplace. Extrinsic motivation speaks to a hierarchy of motivators, such as stuff, power, access, and status. Status is the most effective reward because it is cheapest to fulfill and “sticky”. An example of status would be publicly recognizing an employee as a top performer.
Intrinsic motivation is all about driving an internal desire to be better or to be recognized for being better. It’s all about autonomy, the feeling of being able to control your own outcomes. In the workplace, there can be barriers that make employees feel they can’t control their own success. This is where gamification can help. Gamification provides near-real-time feedback, allowing employees to always know how well they are performing and what they need to do to achieve their objectives.
For more information about gamification, including how credit unions are using gamification and common pitfalls in implementing gamification, listen to How Much Are Disengaged Employees Costing Your Credit Union? the first installment in a two-part series about gamification.
CMG logoCUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for TruStage® Auto & Home and Life Insurance Products and Mortgage Payment Protection. Learn more about our Preferred Partner at
 i Gallup, Employee Engagement Is Stagnant in 2015, 2016
ii, The Cost of a Disengaged Employee, 2015

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Video: 2017 Economic and Market Overview – New Administration Brings Change

What will President Trump’s economic policies mean to financial markets in 2017 and beyond? You can now watch a recent discussion lead by two of our experts. They discussed the topic recently with a group of financial advisors who serve credit union members.
Our chief economist Steve Rick and Scott Knapp, Managing Principal for CUNA Mutual Fiduciary Consultants, presented a general overview of the current economy and financial markets, and their forecast of key indicators for 2017 and beyond.
Rick outlined the Federal Reserve Bank’s goals for steadily increasing the short-term interest rates from 0.9 percent today up to 3 percent in about four years. He said if the Trump Administration can enact its main stated economic policies, the U.S. economy should grow at a higher than average rate—above 2 percent—in 2017 and 2018.
However, he forecast a one-year downturn in 2018, as Americans pay down debt after borrowing heavily for several years. Rick also cautioned that uncertainty about President Trump’s policies can delay economic growth if companies respond by delaying hiring and capital expenditures.
Rick also discussed the potential effects of the administration’s policies on the labor market, inflation, deficits, and interest rates.
In addition, Knapp explained the substantial stock market increase following the election, showing how stock prices turned sharply higher above the rate of corporate earnings growth since November 2016. The burst of optimism appears to have levelled off in the first quarter of 2017, Knapp said.
The Trump administration’s three key pro-growth policies of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and reduced regulation face three potential headwinds, Knapp said. These headwinds include higher deficits and debt, opposition from Congress to increased spending and legal challenges to regulatory changes.
Rick and Knapp concluded by answering questions from financial advisors. A few topics included the merits of actively managed bond funds versus indexed funds and potential effects of international unrest on U.S. markets.
Click here to view the discussion  

About the Presenters
Steve Rick is the CUNA Mutual Group Director – Chief Economist. He’s also a board member for University of Wisconsin Credit Union, and a senior lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Scott Knapp is Managing Principal – Investment Consulting for CUNA Mutual Fiduciary Consultants. He’s responsible for CUNA Mutual’s overall investment philosophy and implementation of programs that help institutional investors meet their objectives. He’s also a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
CUNA Mutual Fiduciary Consultants is a marketing name and service of MEMBERS Capital Advisors, Inc., 5910 Mineral Point Road, Madison, WI 53705, the registered investment advisor affiliate of CUNA Mutual Group. MEMBERS Capital Advisors has assets under management of more than $15.2 billion*, including the general account of CMFG Life Insurance Company. 

Visit for more information. 

*As of June 30, 2016. 401K-1787467.1-0517-0619

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Delivering Convenience is Anything But Easy

By Rich Trace, Vice President of Wholesale Lending and Commercial Protection

Meeting your members' demand for convenience is changing the dynamic of the credit union/member relationship. Members want to do business when, where and how it best suits their lives, and that may not be around your office hours or locations.
You may believe you know your members better than anyone. You may think the loyalty your relationship is based on is stronger than the appeal of competitors. And, you may think you're already meeting their expectations and delivering a member-friendly customer experience.
But, there are a few problems with those assumptions. Loyalty only gets you so far. At some point convenience becomes more important. As technology empowers people to manage their busy lives, they'll inevitably gravitate to the path of least resistance as long as it delivers value and meets their needs.
In fact, a Chief Retail Officer at a large credit union recently said, "Most members are loyal to their credit unions. They want to do business with them, but convenience trumps that."
Also, don't confuse your vision of convenience with your members'. According to an IBM study, 62 percent of retail banking executives surveyed said they deliver an excellent customer experience. But, just 35 percent of their customers agreed.
As a credit union, your challenge is how to compete in today's technology-driven world. You need to adapt quickly and often to satisfy changing consumer demands and deliver a convenient experience.
As a result, you may have to divert time and resources from other priorities.
For example, providing a new digital product or channel involves a number of considerations, including:
  • Technology expertise
  • Financial investment
  • Data security
  • Compliance issues
  • Ongoing maintenance
And of course, you must address these issues while meeting the ultimate objective - making it easy for your members to do business with you.
While delivering convenience is vital to meeting your members' expectations, it's a never-ending process. With the technology revolution continuing to pick up speed, you can feel caught between a sense of urgency and taking a measured approach.
Overshadowing everything is the need to get it right. Your members trust you to get it right. If you don't, it's now easier than ever for them to take their business to a competitor who does.
To learn more, see As Car Shopping Gets More Convenient, Lending Gets More Difficult.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Latest Credit Union Trends Report Shows Membership and Loan Portfolio Growth

Credit unions are gaining members and growing loan portfolios according to our latest trends report. The economic outlook published today, and highlights include the following:

  • During February, credit unions picked-up 538,000 in new memberships, loan and savings balances grew at a 12.8 percent and 8.4 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. Firms hired 235,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.1 percent, and long-term interest rates decreased 1 basis point. Real GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 2.3 percent in 2017, faster than the 1.6 percent pace reported in 2016.

  • At the end of February, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,977 CUs in operation, 9 fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 242, more than the 241 lost in the 12 months ending in February 2016.

  • Total credit union assets rose 1.9 percent in February, above the 1.4 percent gain reported in February of 2016. Assets rose 7.9 percent during the past year due to a 7.5 percent increase in deposits, a 28 percent increase in borrowings, and a 5.7 percent increase in capital.

  • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 0.5 percent in February, faster than the 0.1 percent pace reported in February 2016. Loan balances are up 11.5 percent during the last 12 months. With loan balances growing faster than savings, credit union liquidity is tightening up as the credit union average loan-to-savings ratio reached 79.5 percent, up from 76.7 percent in February 2016.

  • Credit union memberships rose 0.49 percent in February, up from the 0.33 percent gain reported in February 2016. Memberships are up 4.3 percent during the past year due to robust demand for credit, solid job growth and comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates.

  • Credit union loan delinquency rates rose to 0.84 percent in February, above the long-run “natural rate” average of 0.75 percent. Expect the rate to fall in March due to tax refunds and bonuses allowing some members to catch-up on late loan payments.
Click here to access the full report via

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spam, Shams and Other Scams: A Look at Today's Latest Threats

By Ken Otsuka, Sr. Risk Consultant

Phishing, smishing, and spoofing.... Without a doubt, scams and shams targeting credit unions and members are on the rise. And, fraudsters are attacking the path of least resistance - whether it's your credit union, your employees or your members.

A survey by Truecaller reports that individuals receive more than 22 spam calls and texts each month. And, 27 million Americans lost approximately $7.4 billion to telephone scams alone.

While it's difficult to tell how many calls come from fraudsters, their tactics are getting more crafty. They pressure victims to make important decisions on the spot by using innovative schemes and new twists on existing, age-old scams. And, today's multi-channel approach involving traditional mail, phone calls, emails, texts, online banking, and mobile technology complicates matters.

As weapons that fraudsters can use grow, so do the types of cons. A few of them include:
  • Phone Calls: These are designed to scam members into simply saying 'Yes.' Fraudsters record responses as a voice signature and attempt to make fraudulent charges and account changes.
  • Smishing: These data harvesting attempts come through fraudulent text messages. They often include malware, websites, and phone numbers to create an immediate threat or call to action.
  • Spoofing: These are cloned, fake websites that mirror actual financial websites. Watch out for misspelled words, low-resolution images and altered URLs.
  • Phishing: These are attempts to acquire sensitive financial information like user names, passwords and account numbers through email. They masquerade as legitimate communications from a members' financial institution.
In all of these cases – and many others - fraudsters look for victims who find their stories convincing and will willingly share sensitive information. The data can then be used to authorize and transact wire transfers, ACH, plastic card, counterfeit checks and other types of transactions.

Unfortunately, these transactions are often performed on a legitimate exchange platform; but, they're all based on fairy tales. One rule of thumb that should apply: trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, follow up, inquisitively, to learn more. In some cases, refusing service due to a potential scam is the only way out.

To learn more about how your credit union can combat fraudsters, watch a special webinar (1 hr., 13 min.): "Spam, Shams, and Other Scams." The on-demand session includes our senior risk consultants, Robert Jarosinski and Ken Otsuka, who discuss recent fraud trends, how you can detect a scam, what to do if you encounter one and how you can reduce the impact to members.

Combatting fraud and scams in a dynamic environment is not easy. Protecting members is an even trickier proposition. So, educate your team. Know the scams. Spread the word. And stay vigilant.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Celent Has Recognized TruStage for Innovation and Customer Experience

We're honored to have won the 2017 Celent Model Insurer Award in the digital and omnichannel technology category for our TruStage® simplified-issue term life insurance product
Celent is a global research and advisory firm in the financial services and insurance industries. It recognizes ‘Model Insurers’ for their ability to improve performance, deliver innovative solutions, and meet market demands when tackling issues that face all insurers today. 
This is the first time TruStage has received the award. Its simplified-issue term life insurance product offers consumers an entirely online purchase experience. 
After designating a beneficiary at the start and answering just two health questions, a completely automated underwriting platform delivers a decision in minutes with coverage face amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 to provide protection for home mortgages, children’s education, income replacement and final expenses. 
For more details on the award, see today's press release.