Are your members financially healthy?

HEALTH …it is a word we think about every day. We think about our own health and the health of loved ones. How is health measured? We look at key indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI, Cholesterol, and heart rate, for example. Our desire is for increased health. 

So, when I first heard of the Financial Health model created by the non-profit, Financial Health Network (formerly CFSI), I was thrilled. This framework offers four main pillars of financial health and under each pillar, there are two indicators. It is beautifully simple. They offer this model up as an open source. 

Why did I get so excited about this model? 

  1. The Financial Health model is easier for the consumers to understand because of the specific indicators. These indicators show whether or not they have daily financial systems in place that allow them to be resilient and pursue opportunities over time. It provides a roadmap for them to track progress. 
  2. Using a financial health model to model seems less insulting than pushing financial “literacy” and less nebulous than trying to include the entire field of financial education. Financial health is a framework.
  3. Financial institutions can take this framework and use it as a strategy. Many financial institutions offer financial education from a tactical level but I am not sure that there is a financial health strategy in place all the time. This model provides that.

What if credit unions embraced this model as the base model on which to operate? What if we built products, programs, and policies that encouraged financial health? This spring at two conferences, I was able to share this model and practical ways to implement it across the credit union (lending, collections, member services, HR, operations, and marketing). The implementation ideas were well-received because they were practical and the model is a simple way to inform strategy.

When you think about your members or your staff, how many are financially healthy? If they are like the people in the research provided by the Financial Health Network, that states, 17% of Americans are financially vulnerable and 55% are financially coping – they need their credit union to help them improve their financial health.

Next Steps: 

  1. Ask yourself if your financial education program has a strategy
  2. Get to understand the Financial Health model – Get involved with the Financial Health Network. There are some credit unions already involved. 
  3. Brainstorm ways to help your members increase their financial health by looking at the indicators and seeing how the credit union can help. 
  4. Contact me if I can help you brainstorm or share resources that BALANCE has in place to improve the financial health of your members.
Cynthia Campbell

Cynthia Campbell

Cynthia is a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), she holds a BS in Business Administration and an MBA from Elmhurst College in Illinois, and a master’s degree in Adult ... Web: Details