BY KEVIN STEHL
Anyone in the credit union industry knows about the importance of helping our members make the right financial decisions at each stage of their lives in order to achieve overall financial stability and well-being. But how can we help them to better understand financial information so that they can make sound financial decisions?
Even with the vast amount of information available in this technological age, financial literacy in this country continues to be very low. A 2016 Financial Capabilities Study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that nearly two-thirds of Americans could not pass a basic financial literacy test, a number that is down from 2009 when the study was first conducted.
To deal with this ongoing issue, SECU, Maryland’s largest credit union with over 240,000 members, recently launched a free, interactive financial education program – Own Your Money — designed to help both members and other consumers build their financial knowledge and manage their money effectively.
Own Your Money consists of short, on-demand learning modules that cover a wide range of financial topics. These modules are interactive, which helps to keep users interested and entertained. They include video, animation, and interactive digital tools to better educate consumers about topics that, for many, are confusing and may be viewed as dull or boring. The modules also don’t have to be completed in any specific order. Consumers can simply choose to take the topics that interest them at any time.
Joseli Wright, SVP of Retail Banking for SECU, notes that the genesis of Own Your Money came from SECU’s own work with college students. “We saw the need for better financial education tools when we were running a financial literacy program on a local college campus,” Wright explains. “Students didn’t have a basic understanding of things as simple as balancing their checking accounts. They weren’t prepared for the financial decisions they were going to have to make once they graduated from college, like applying for a mortgage or setting up a retirement account.”
Own Your Money was born to help fill this gap. SECU partnered with third party content-provider EverFi, which developed the Own Your Money modules. EverFi is one of the nation’s leading education technology companies and develops training for all ages.
While the content is housed on the EverFi portal, the site has SECU branding and is accessed through links on the SECU consumer website. This allows for a seamless customer experience as users go from the SECU site to the Own Your Money learning modules. While the modules are free, consumers do need to register in order to access the content.
With more than 20 financial topics included in the Own Your Money modules, there is content available for every stage in a person’s financial life. Topics are broken down into three major content areas: Money Basics; Credit & Borrowing; and Planning & Saving.