Thursday, May 21, 2020

ERG Session Helps Caregivers Conduct "Critical Conversations"

Caregivers are people helping people, who often find themselves confronted with extra expenses that affect their financial future. By revealing the growing magnitude and financial implications of this typically silent population and dispelling common myths about caregivers in the workplace, caregivers' insights and experiences are able to inform customer and employee experience strategies.

CUNA Mutual Group’s Caregivers’ Engagement Resource Group (ERG) was established this year to provide a forum for employee caregivers to relate, educate each other through individual experience and knowledge, and celebrate successes personally and as a community. To date, the ERG has grown to 112 members.

On May 20, the ERG hosted an educational session titled, “Critical Conversations.” This virtual event focused on approaching difficult conversations with others, such as the need to consider assisted living; power of attorney or other legal paperwork; and sorting out role and responsibilities with other family members.

The session featured ERG members who shared their personal experiences of what has worked well, what didn’t, and what they might do differently today. The session included a Q&A segment and an opportunity for others to share their personal stories, learn from one another and make connections. Here are some lessons learned and recommendations presenters offered in preparing for and conducting difficult conversations:

       Figure out what’s most important to the person and try to connect that back to help them realize how their actions may endanger what they want.
       No situation is the same; trust your gut/little voice based on the person you care for and others involved.
       Investigate available resources (articles, care networks, agencies, AARP, other services) and use those you are most comfortable with. 
       Have conversations in bite-size pieces. Read the person’s body language, and don’t expect everything to be accomplished in a single conversation. 
       Sometimes talking about your own transitional plans helps. It can prompt them to start thinking about theirs and how it fits (or should fit) with yours.
       Stress that you want to be able to execute on their decisions, so things get done the way they want them to happen. 
       Identify and align with others they trust; they can serve as influencers to help move things in the direction you’re trying to go.  
       Start the conversation about “living” documents (Power of Attorney – Financial and/or Medical) versus “death” documents (will).
       Pull people in for difficult conversations before a situation gets to the tipping point where a transition must be made.
       Plan ahead. Don’t just blurt out the message without any planning.
       For multiple caregivers, identify your roles ahead of time and consider using role-playing principles to prepare for the conversation and try to anticipate objections.
       Flip the perspective to the patient and set up the conversation from their point of view and what’s important to them (retain control, independence, make decisions, etc.)
       Sometimes it’s better to have the experts (doctors) give the patient the information and have the patient make the decisions about what they want to do.

The diverse and complex nature of caregiving means no two situations are the same. Depending on the care need, the relationship between caregiver and recipient, or even the stage of caregiving (acute, stable, or end-of-life), there is no one-size-fits-all approach to many of the challenges facing caregivers. But networks like the Caregivers ERG provides employees a platform to share experience and knowledge, thereby informing each other, their employer, and broader community.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Tips for working from home with kids

In these unprecedented times, many of us are fortunate to be able to work from home. This can mean changes to our work schedules, but for many, it means sharing a space with children and other family members. Our Modern Family Engagement Resource Group put together these tips for navigating a busy and full home during quarantine. 

  • Arrange your schedule so it suits you. Block out times when you will be unavailable and openly communicate that schedule with your team.
  • Be protective of your family time. If being available for an 8:00am meeting doesn’t work for your family, block it as Do Not Schedule.
  • Use rituals to start the day – for both you and your kids. For example: making the bed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting dressed.
  • Set up Facetime/Skype/Zoom calls for kids to connect with grandparents, aunt/uncles etc. This is a win-win situation because the adults love to check in on what kids are doing and it gives us, as parents a break. Think of it as sort of like “virtual babysitting.”

Set the Stage
  • Designate specific spaces for both school and work.
  • Have a “morning meeting” as a family where everyone can talk about their day and everyone’s various schedules. Schedule focused time with kids during gaps in your schedule. For example, Mom has a Zoom call from 9-10 and 1-3. She has availability to help with homework and get lunch going from 10-1.
  • Lower the bar, professionally, when your kids are with you. For some, this means working abbreviated hours one day or week and more consistently during the times their kids are with another caregiver or napping.
  • Set the stage with workmates during Zoom meetings and calls, “My kids are home...”  This new environment has us all blending our work lives and our home lives and many of us find that endearing.

  • Set boundaries – in space and time. It is okay to say ‘no.’
  • Take self-care breaks throughout the day – for workouts, walks, naps, meditation etc. Choose the self-care that best suits you and helps regenerate your mind and body!
  • Take time off from electronics – both kids and parents.
  • Take time off from school and work – take a “staycation.”
  • Limit or schedule time to check news/social media. Avoid checking before bed as it causes unnecessary anxiety and we need our rest now more than ever!
  • Talk about highs and lows of the day as family at dinner or before bedtime. This allows space for kids and adults to feel all feelings.
  • Journal thoughts, feelings and experiences during this unprecedented time. You may want to look back on it someday.

Overall, focus on what you can control.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Inclusive behavior while social distancing - not an oxymoron.

By Jacqui Regenbogen, DEI Consultant

At first, the concepts of inclusion and social distancing seem contradictory. Despite today’s very real health need for us to keep physical distance from one another, psychologically – we need to be and feel connected more than ever to continue carrying out our philosophy of “people helping people.”

Here are some ways we can carry our inclusive commitment forward with our teams and colleagues during this time.

Start Meetings with Social Interaction

Research shows that people can feel isolated in virtual meetings that place greater importance to following a strict agenda than social interaction. When facilitating a virtual meeting, invite everyone to share how they’re doing before diving into business.

Starting from a place of connection can lead to greater engagement, more successful meeting outcomes and possibly even fun. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Appreciate Each Other

We’ve seen the genuine appreciation various leaders have expressed over the last few weeks for our continued efforts to push through. It feels good to be appreciated by them as we work through unprecedented times.

That said, are we practicing this with each other? Some of us are having to deal with a greater volume of work, while others are being redeployed to focus on other priorities. A sincere “Thank you” to a colleague can go a long way in showing you appreciate and support them during this time of rapid and frequent change.

Remember that Each of Us is Unique and Accept the Diversity in Our Reactions

Each and every one of us are adapting to a new normal in our own ways. And, how you respond to your new reality may differ from how someone else responds. Do your best to meet people where they are each day.

Acknowledgement of our shared humanity in our adjustment period is a gift you can give to each person you interact with right now. Remember to give your colleagues, and yourself, “grace space” and know that we are all doing the best we can to manage our work, family life, health, safety and finances during a global pandemic.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. Advisors Names in Top 100

Financial planning can be an intimidating undertaking for many consumers. Professional financial advisors play a key role in removing complexity and helping credit union members reach their goals.

We’re pleased to share that CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI) continues to bring the very top talent to credit union members across the country. Several CBSI advisors were named among the 2019 Top 100 Bank Advisors by Bank Investment Consultant.

These outstanding CBSI Advisors are:
·         Justin Dams, located at Veridian Credit Union in Waverly, IA
·         Frank Feng, located at Financial Center Credit Union in Stockton, CA
·         Costas Grekis, located at Clearview Federal Credit Union in Moon Township, PA
·         Randall Harris, located at Ascend Federal Credit Union in Tullahoma, TN
·         Donald Lutz, located at Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union in Albuquerque, NM
·         Bryan Roberts, located at American Heritage Federal Credit Union in Philadelphia, PA

Whether members are planning to buy a first home, preparing to retire or seeking insurance to protect their family, CUNA Mutual Group’s advisors provide accessible advice. They are highly trained, trusted partners to members.

CBSI is committed to making financial security accessible for the credit union community. Our advisors listen to identify members’ needs, simplify the financial planning process and help create confidence for the future.

Advisors are held to the highest of standards when it comes to helping members achieve financial stability. Because CBSI advisors support the fundamental mission of the credit union movement – to be in the member’s corner first and foremost– they are well-positioned to understand their clients’ unique needs and are deeply invested in helping those clients achieve their financial goals. The incentive is the member’s success.

CBSI salutes all our outstanding advisors and their efforts to remove barriers and help more credit union members make plans for financial security.

Representatives are registered, securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, which is not an affiliate of the credit union. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution.


Advisors demonstrate CU philosophy

CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI) Financial Advisors attending Advisor Academy in Madison, Wisconsin took time from their November studies to show they embrace the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” Attendees, who work with credit unions and members in 11 different states, heard about CUNA Mutual Group’s Community Giving Campaign and filled out the “I give because…” message sheets with messages like: “It’s why I work,” “Others have given to me,” and, “I believe in everyone’s future.” 

Jennifer Klein, CBSI Manager of Learning & Development notes how Advisor Academy can introduce the importance of the credit union culture for attendees who’ve come to CBSI from banks and large investment firms. “This showed how important themes in our corporate mission reflect credit union values where CBSI Advisors are located.” 

Klein was impressed by the group’s enthusiasm for the giving campaign’s philanthropic nature -- evident in their answers to complete the phrase, “I give because…”
·         “I understand people need help sometimes”
·         “It’s why I work”
·         “I am blessed to have more than I need”
·         “Others were there for me when I needed it”
·         “I care about others”
·         “Every little bit makes a difference”
·         “I care about everyone getting an opportunity”
·         “Others have given to me”
·         “I am blessed”
·         “The children deserve it”
·         “I’ve been given to”
·         “I believe in everyone’s future”

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Are Wealth Management Services Core to Your Credit Union? Here’s Why They Should Be

Credit union leaders are always in search of new ways to better serve members and add value to their lives. While your organization doesn’t chase shareholder returns in the same way that other financial institutions might, finding new opportunities to meet member needs and generate new business is still important. And when those two goals intersect, opportunity awaits.

Wealth management is such an intersection. After all, financial security is the top priority for credit union members of all ages.

At the same time more than half (52%) of members prefer accessing financial services at a credit union,[1] but member penetration for investment services is a mere 3%,[2] according to a February 2019 report, “Making Wealth Management Core in Credit Unions” by Kehrer Bielan and sponsored by CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI). The report found that, when credit unions make wealth management core to their business, they can:[3]

· Increase the share of members helped by the wealth management unit by 29%
· Double the revenue production of the wealth management unit
· Increase the net profit contribution of the wealth management unit to the credit union by 56%

But what does it mean to make investment services “core” to the business? The report found that wealth management becomes a key part of the credit union’s offerings when members think of the credit union as a provider of investments as readily as they view it as a provider of traditional deposit and loan services.

The report also found that integrating wealth management services, such as retirement planning, investment services and overall financial planning yields a number of significant benefits. Here are four advantages the report identified that credit unions may enjoy when wealth management services become core.

1. Expanded wallet share
Households that have investment holdings with their credit union keep 42% more savings and investments at their credit union than those who simply consider the credit union to be their primary depository.[4] The typical credit union household keeps just 17% of their savings and investments with their credit union.[5] However, the report found that when just one investment relationship is added, credit unions increase wallet share by 159% and the relationship has a positive impact on member loyalty and retention.[6]

2. Increased customer life cycle
When credit unions offer more products and services, they not only give members more options, but they also strengthen member relationships. By adding just one investment relationship, credit unions can increase wallet share by almost 160%.[7] And when a household considers the credit union its primary financial institution, assets held by the credit union jump by 82% on average.[8] In addition, the report found that wealth management client households stay with their credit unions for 1.7 more years on average versus households that view credit unions as being their primary depository.[9]

3. Added points of sale
Members with investment relationships at their credit unions are often in need of other financial services, too. Those with investment relationships are:[10]

· 35% more likely to have a first mortgage
· 100% more likely to have a second mortgage
· 50% more likely to have a home equity line of credit
· 93% more likely to have an automobile loan
· 77% more likely to have a money market account

4. Higher levels of member trust
While the report found that 44% of credit union households with one credit or depository account have a great deal of trust in their credit union, that number drops to 41% when a second deposit or loan product is added.[11] However, when an investment or insurance account is added, members are 20% more likely to have a great deal of trust in credit unions.[12]

Make Wealth Management Core to Your Credit Union

There are numerous ways credit unions can integrate investment services into their core services. The Kehrer Bielan report identified four essential components:

1. Hire and empower high-quality advisor talent: Research points to a direct correlation between number of advisors and the number of members helped by wealth management services.

2. Offer incentives for advisory business: Firms that do so enjoy a 2.4 times greater share of their revenue from advisory business compared to firms that do not.[13]

3. Include and emphasize financial planning services: These services help address key member concerns regarding their financial stability and preparing for the future.

4. Improve member awareness and referral practices: As your members have a pleasant experience with their advisors, they’re more likely to spread the word. Develop a referral policy that recognizes and rewards members for their loyalty. They feel appreciated and you get new business — it’s a win for everyone.


Want to learn more about making investment services core to your credit union? View our infographic and listicle now.

Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CBSI is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America. The representative may also be financial institution employee that accepts deposits on behalf of the financial institution.


[1] Kehrer Bielan, Making Wealth Management Core in Credit Unions, February 2019, pp 2.

[2] Ibid, pp 18.

[3] Ibid, pp 18.

[4] Ibid, pp 20.

[5] Ibid, pp 20.

[6] Ibid, pp 19.

[7] Ibid, pp 19.

8 Ibid, pp. 15.

[9] Ibid, pp 22.

[10] Ibid, pp 19.

[11] Ibid, pp 23.

[12] Ibid, pp 21.

[13] Ibid, pp 15.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

CBSI Women of Distinction Represent Credit Union Movement in Chicago

CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI) recently united its top female advisors in Chicago for the organization’s annual Women of Distinction Conference. In addition to networking and engaging in professional development, including participation in the CBSI-sponsored Investment News Conference, the advisors reached out to nonprofit, Dress for Success, and donated everything from business suits, handbags, shoes, jewelry and scarfs to coats and a variety of personal hygiene care items.   

CBSI Women of Distinction 
Beyond our fellowship as women advisors, is our collective passion for bridging the gender gap,” says Karen Reinertson, CRPC, Financial Advisor, RBFCU Investments Group at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union. “Together, we’re committed to helping women realize the tremendous value we can deliver within the investment management industry, particularly by helping people shape brighter financial futures through the credit union movement.”

CBSI Women of Distinction is currently comprised of 35 advisors. Eligible advisors have three years tenure in good standing with CBSI, consistently achieve their annual production numbers, and are committed to mentoring a fellow female advisor and engaging in subcommittee work and community outreach designed to drive the growth of female advisors within the financial services industry.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summit Credit Union, CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. Host University Personal Finance Majors

University students interested in careers in Personal Finance got an in-depth look at credit unions, financial advising, and CUNA Mutual recently, thanks to Summit Credit Union and CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc.

 CUNA Mutual Exchange Center.
Students from the University of Wisconsin’s Financial Occupations Club for University Students (FOCUS) were hosted at the CUNA Mutual Exchange Center on April 19. The students were all Personal Finance Majors whose comprehensive coursework, covering household financial issues and concerns, enables them, among other things, to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam after graduation.

The students found out how CUNA Mutual Group serves credit unions and members, asked questions about Financial Advisors with CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., and learned about managing Institutional and Retail Assets from CUNA Mutual Fiduciary Consultants.

Interns and recent hires who came to CUNA Mutual from the UW-Madison also gave the personal finance students insights into the career path and work culture of collaborating on financial products and services.

The students were hosted by Rob McCalla of The CENTER for Advisor Excellence and Ric Mathias, Vice President Sales Development at Summit Credit Union, who also led a discussion about career opportunities with credit unions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Coordinators, Sales Assistants Donate for Youth at Conference

Attendees at the CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI) Coordinators and Sales Assistant Academy conference in Milwaukee, WI came together Mar. 11-13 and provided much-needed donations of supplies and personal items for troubled youth and their families. 

The donations were collected for the Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center, a Milwaukee non-profit that meets the needs of runaways and homeless youth by helping them resolve personal and family problems, strengthen family relationships and support safe and stable homes.

Jennifer Klein, CBSI Learning & Development Manager says that CBSI employees and the attendees at the CSAA conference demonstrated their commitment to making a difference and giving back to the community.

“Conference attendees work at credit unions, which have an ongoing mission to meet the needs of people at all levels of society.  It’s very much a shared value in our movement and we’re very happy that so many attendees brought donations,” Klein said.

Audra O’Connell, Executive Director of Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center, thanked attendees at the opening session of the conference and noted how the organization provides shelter, safety and understanding for young people dealing with a variety of stressful problems. 

“Teens who come to us for help are usually having serious problems at home,” O’Connell noted. 

“They leave because of abuse or neglect and many come from alcohol or drug addicted families.”

She added, “Our goals are to encourage families to work out problems, help youth decide on a positive course of action and ensure a more stable living environment.”

Donations can be made online by visiting

For those interested in learning more about youth issues, Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center is affiliated with the National Network for Youth.

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Shift in Approach that Actually Results in... Well, Results

By Tammie Harvey, CUNA Mutual Group, Director, Continuous Improvement & Agile Execution

In an era of rapid change and marketplace disruption, we’re all challenged to help our customers/members identify and address a host of evolving needs. Realizing traditional methods – known as a waterfall approach – were not helping us reach our goals at a necessary pace, we shifted our thinking to an agile approach.

Now, a waterfall approach consists of building requirements, designing solutions, releasing to the marketing and then getting feedback from customers. In a nutshell, you focus on figuring out exactly what you want in the beginning and you don’t tell anyone about it or use the solution until it’s done and ready for implementation. By that time, you might be headed in the wrong direction, and because it’s a waterfall, there’s no way to go back up to one of the previous steps in the process, without adding time, cost or risk.

Agile on the other hand is about gathering customer insights, building solutions and verifying with customers along the way. Then, releasing the minimum amount necessary to serve your customers’ needs. You build upon the minimum viable solution over time to get to your end state – consistently co-creating with your customers along the way. Through continuous learning, you mitigate your risk of building something your customers don’t want or need.

To illustrate, think about someone who opens a coffee shop. On day one, they sell coffee. When customers go through the drive-thru, the owner asks them what else they want. The next day the owner adds muffins to the menu. Over time, the coffeeshop becomes a restaurant that serves a variety of beverages, food items and gifts – all that the customers said they wanted while giving you feedback along the way.  

Agile can be intimidating at first. It requires change. Change in how you think, behave and execute your work. Let’s face it, that can be hard. Agile also comes with a whole set of its own terms. There are several methods that can be adopted, depending upon the business problem you are trying to solve. And, because it is a relatively new concept to the financial services industry, education is key – for employees and customers. The learning never stops.

The results; however, speak for themselves. An iterative, co-creation process leads to efficient development, aligned work teams, positive customer experience, quality solutions, and a better ability to manage and change priorities.

Our results have been both transformational and incremental. For example, product development now takes months instead of years, and when we determine through testing that something isn’t adding value for our customers, we stop working on it. In addition, employees feel empowered to identify improvements and adopt new ways of working so they can deliver value faster for our customers.

Not only are credit unions excited about the products and services we’re building, and how they’re part of it, they’re excited about how they can start embracing this thing called “agile” and reap its benefits.