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Uncover Financial Anxiety to Increase Deposits, Loans and Loyalty!

It’s no secret the pandemic has
dramatically increased emotional and especially financial stress for
many Americans. Prior to the coronavirus, many consumers had few reserves in
the way of savings and now their financial pain is even greater.  According to Raddon Research, 53% of
consumers worry about an unexpected medical, car or home repair expense. You
may be surprised to learn that 42% cannot even cover a $500 emergency. Even
savvy folks with excellent savings and little debt want a plan to be financially
secure in the future. Studies show consumers are looking for guidance and
advice from their primary financial institution. Will they turn to you?

Improving financial health is a
big growth opportunity for your credit union! The key question is, “are you
ready to seize it”?  If so, your staff
must be confident in creating conversations and asking questions to first uncover
financial anxiety. When training I frequently tell staff, “Please
remember, no pain, no dream, no sale!  Your members don’t want a product. They’re
hoping you can help them alleviate a pain/problem or achieve a dream. Your job
is to find out where they hurt!


  • The
    branch is not dead. While digital use has exploded, members will seek a branch contact
    for financial advice and counsel.
  • Digital-only
    members are less connected and loyal. They often view your mobile and online services
    as a commodity with little differentiation or personalization.
  • Less
    branch traffic increases time for member outreach and building deeper relationships.
    Rather than waiting for members to visit or call, your staff must be proactive
    and actively engage with their assigned members. 

Now you may be saying, “Okay
Barb, we’re well aware of these facts and potential opportunities. Can you give
us specific ideas or tools we can implement with our staff or training?”  Yes, I’m happy to do that. Following are three
proven recommendations.

Actions to Implement Financial Health as a Growth

  1. Create
    a financial health self-assessment or money values survey

Surely, you’ve
noticed how print or electronic articles often grab your interest with a quiz
or test to rate yourself. Frankly, I’m a sucker for these and love to see how I
score. By answering several questions, I can find out if I’m resilient,
healthy, a procrastinator or a romantic. 
Then it hit me, “why not create a Money Values Survey to offer members”?

Feel free to
create any type of quiz or survey that creates a discussion around financial
health. Here’s a partial sample of a survey I use in our virtual or on-site training
to help Financial Coaches uncover a member’s values and anxieties about
money.  Imagine you are a member reading
the following statements and checking if it’s very important, somewhat
or not important. How would you rate these?

  • Freedom to travel and enjoy life
  • Being unburdened by possessions
  • Comfort and contentment
  • Upscale lifestyle
  • Being able to save regularly
  • Little or no debt
  • Helping the less fortunate

After quickly
reviewing the full survey with 32 statements, like those listed above, the
member totals the number of items checked Very Important. They are
excited to discover their top two money values from four categories: Independence,
Abundance, Stability and Generosity

However, the real magic happens when your FSR/Financial coach debriefs
the survey with follow-up questions. “So, which two values are most
important and how on-track are you right now?”
  Often a member will say, “I value
stability and independence, but I’m not there yet.”
A sharp FSR will go
deeper and ask, “tell me what challenges are preventing you from getting
Typically, a member mentions
they have too much debt or no emergency fund.

By integrating
this fun survey into our clients’ onboarding process, the FSRs/Financial
Coaches can easily uncover financial anxieties and offer solutions such as a
refinance, savings plan, budgeting tool or other services. This is how you
create a highly personalized experience!

2. Elevate the role and expectations of branch staff to financial coaches and relationship managers While you may not change their titles, it’s important to invest in developing and training your staff to embrace their important role as a coach and advisor.  This means arming them with budgeting and other tools to truly educate and help members become financially fit. They don’t have to be licensed or receive special designations. In fact, I have clients with Financial Coaches in every branch. These amazing folks are outstanding at sales and proud they are making a difference.  The key is to provide them with powerful questions and basic money management principles to confidently uncover financial anxiety and engage a member in a meaningful conversation.

3. Create a structured and educational onboarding process for new accounts and loans

Anyone opening
accounts or handling loans is expected to own the relationship, follow-up and create
a more personalized experience.  Personally,
I would welcome my financial coach using a combination of phone calls, emails, direct
mail, voicemail and texts that speak to my specific anxieties, goals or life
stage. Brief video clips are especially helpful. This can include educational
info on building my credit, buying my first home, creating a budget and items
discussed in our first meeting or call. While a minimum of three follow-up touchpoints
is essential, J.D. Power found satisfaction increases as communication
increases.  Shoot for 5-7 personalized
and valued-added connections the first 6 -12 months, not generic product dumps!
 Unfortunately, I find most credit unions
drop the ball after two emails or phone calls.

Key takeaways

  • If
    you want to grow deposits, loans and build loyal member relationships, be sure
    to make uncovering financial anxiety and improving financial health
    a strategic objective.
  • Create
    a financial self-assessment or survey to offer your members while opening their
    account, applying for a loan or email as a follow-up to learn more and engage
    in deeper conversation.
  • Elevate
    the role of your staff to Financial Coaches and relationship managers. Arm them
    with the tools and training they need to identify a member’s pain or problem and
    provide a highly differentiated solution and experience.  No pain, no dream, no sale!
  • Add
    more structure and personalized outreach touchpoints to your new account and
    loan onboarding process.
  • Rather
    than just selling products, be sure your members leave with a plan to
    achieve financial peace.

Challenge – How well is
your credit union doing on building member relationships? Rate your
organization by answering these twelve questions and see how you score.

At High Definition Banking® we believe if you want
your credit union to thrive and be relevant in the lives of your members, you
must be genuinely committed to reducing anxiety and improving their financial
well-being. In doing so you will have a loyal following that considers you
their financial partner. Bottom line, it’s time to turn your retail and lending
staff into relationship managers and Financial Coaches! I welcome a call to
explore a virtual or on-site training for your staff.

Barbara Sanfilippo, CSP, CPAE is an
award-winning motivational speaker, coach and member relationship consultant.
Barb is passionate about creating inspired employees and leaders committed to
making a difference in the lives of their members. Her firm, High Definition
® partners with progressive credit unions to instill
a structured relationship management and financial coaching process to
accelerate growth and focus on the well-being of members. Engage Barb directly
at 858-674-5500, ext. 101 or For consulting and training, visit and view her speaker demo video at

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