Modern mindset matters: Fitbit for financial health

New methods to grow better, stronger and more empowered members

Current strategies in improving member financial health have centered around education and literacy that are mainly focused on a member’s income level and are usually presented in a lecture-based structure. Now is the time for credit unions to embrace a fresh and new approach to financial literacy.

Forward-thinking credit unions can lean into a new definition of financial health—one navigated by a purposeful mindset that is behavior-driven, integrated and measurable.

This modern mindset will take a “Fitbit for Financial Health”—a digital platform that can serve all customers, regardless of their income level. This method looks beyond personal financial statements and bases progress on more detail than if numbers move up or down People have been waiting for this to happen for years—and the time is now.

Your credit union can view Fitbit for Financial Health as a member-centric, digital strategic plan, supported by user-friendly tools and services. This is a fitness solution for the “new financial health” growth mindset. You meet your members where they are in their budgets and income growth—with empathy—and equip them with tangible services and knowledge to reach their goals. Partnering with members in their financial health journey results in empowered, loyal members—increasing lifetime value and driving long-term growth.

These savvy strategies will get your credit union’s Fitbit fitness tool on track and deliver a financial health mindset that leaves your members humming.

Mold an Integrated Health Strategy

A Fitbit for Financial Health should include all aspects of health and wellness. In the past, financial health was held in a separate wellness bucket from mental, emotional and physical health. Research has proved that financial health affects all parts of your health.

Did you know money is the #1 stressor for Americans? According to the American Psychological Association, 3 in 4 adults worry about money. Financial instability has the power to invoke all types of health at risk, leading to negative effects on the well-being of your members, such as:

  • Mental health: depression, anxiety and more
  • Emotional health: strain on marriage and friendships, job loss and more
  • Physical health: chronic illness, headaches and more

Financial stress is a silent epidemic that has long-ranging effects, as mentioned by Renee Newman, Nymbus Industry Advisory Board Member and John Janclaes, CUSO President, as discussed with James Robert Lay during a recent Banking on Digital Growth Interview. The panel noted that by delivering financial guidance, people find renewed hope and see positive outcomes in the future.

Like a doctor visit can help improve physical and mental health, a financial check-up can boost financial health. This personalized approach integrates how the member feels about their finances currently so that you can provide the right services and the right time – meeting them where they are right now.

For example, if your member wants to invest but reveals that the idea makes them feel intimidated and anxious, match them with a digital wealth management solution that humanizes finance. Tactics like this make investing a more inclusive and less stressful experience.

Employ a combination of behavioral finance and digital solutions to show your members how to permanently improve spending and saving.

Deliver Behavior-Driven, User-Friendly Technology

The Fitbit mindset leads credit unions to act as a financial guide, rather than an advisor. Walk alongside your members, leading them to better financial health rather than simply telling them how to do it.

It is vital to review transactional data patterns together, then analyze the data to interpret core motivations driving member behaviors. Work with them to understand how their motivations lead to decisions and patterns in their transactions—and show them examples of how long-term behavior modifications can lead to financial health gains with staying power.

Put that knowledge to work by providing customized, actionable steps to help your member move forward. For example, a member wants an emergency fund but doesn’t want to manually add to it. Leverage technology to make saving over time easier. Assist them in setting up a separate account for those funds, then connect their accounts with a robo-saving app that rounds up debit card transactions and sweeps the spare change into the emergency fund. While the fund grows automatically, your member makes progress on their savings goal.

Your job isn’t done once your member is financially fit. Continue curating visualization strategies and setting goals to develop a customized plan, as their fitness partner. But don’t laminate that plan—it is a living and breathing document that will continue to change throughout your member relationship life cycle. Whether you meet monthly, quarterly or annually—reassess progress and revise recommendations and implement new solutions, as needed.

Model a Measurable Financial Well-Being Spectrum

The historical way of thinking was that someone was either financially healthy or not—a monochromatic mindset. The Fitbit for Financial Health operates on a continuum, placing financial fitness on a prismatic “well-being spectrum” that includes measurable progress points—your member’s fitness score.

Quantify components of financial health to create a Financial Fitness score. The score should include both objective and subjective “fitness” measurements. Include objective, quantitative measures such as credit score, debt to income (DTI), insurance coverage, emergency fund and more. Then include subjective, qualitative measures such as your member’s feelings about current budget and spending, short-term and long-term goals and timeline, health concerns (financial, physical, mental and emotional) and so on.

Thinking about financial health as a pass/fail concept can be intimidating and discouraging for members. Start the conversation with “here you are right now and here are actionable steps you can do to progress.” Members are more likely to buy in and take action when they can see a trend that amplifies hope and eases qualms.

Help your members get financially fit for today—and tomorrow. But it’s more than simply reporting a number. Knowing a financial fitness score is useless if you can’t articulate why that is their current score. It’s not possible to provide sound recommendations without understanding the motivations and reactions driving your member.

Tie in integrated health strategies and implement behavior-driven, user-friendly technologies. That all-encompassing mindset sets the stage for empowered financial fitness for your members, unlocks new partnership opportunities and powers purpose-filled growth for your credit union.

John Janclaes

John Janclaes

For more than 30 years, John Janclaes has successfully led strategic growth initiatives for financial services organizations. As president and chief executive officer of $2B Partners Federal Credit Union, John ... Web: Details