Credit Unions Only Scratching Surface on Member Needs

Rick Uhlmann

Jess Noelck

CUNA Mutual’s Polet Tells ACUC Attendees to Address Product Needs, or Else

— Members’ financial needs generally run deeper than the purchase of a single product, and credit unions need to tap into those opportunities or competitors will, attendees of America’s Credit Union Conference were told Tuesday.

David Polet, CUNA Mutual Group’s Voice of Customer program manager, told a Discovery breakout session that research shows a member’s product purchase can lead to other opportunities that will deepen the relationship and provide an unmet member need.

For instance, Polet said, a member might re-evaluate their auto insurance if they bought a new car. That might lead them to consider bundling that insurance with their homeowners.

“Research shows members are looking for financial reviews and money management tools from their credit unions,” Polet said. “Credit unions can’t be passive about making members aware of what they offer. Given that two out of three dollars members spend on consumer loans are being borrowed elsewhere, it behooves credit unions to aggressively make members aware of what they have to offer.”

Polet said a single transaction with a member can provide credit unions with indicators of other needs the member might have. “For example, if they purchased life insurance in the last two years, research shows more than 60 percent of those new policyholders say they would be open to advice from their credit union on eliminating debt.”

One of the keys to identifying member needs is through member data, Polet said. That data will tell you, for instance, if a member has a loan elsewhere and whether it might be worthwhile to initiate a loan recapture program to retrieve some of those outside loans. “By accessing that data, it provides you with fodder for conversations on how to gain a bigger share of their business.”

There are strong relationships with life events and a member’s purchase of insurance, investments and other products, Polet added. For instance, for those members who bought a car in the past two years “we’ve also seen a trend of them buying other products like life, homeowners and, of course, auto insurance.”

Polet said key to identifying members’ additional needs are front-line employees. “Employees who ask the right questions of members can provide a multitude of opportunities that will benefit the member and credit union.” He said those interactions are vital to prevent leakage of business to other financial institutions, and that leakage is significant.

“Members have shown a willingness to work with their credit unions,” Polet said. “However, they aren’t aware of how their credit union can work for them.”

The era of when a consumer told you what they needed and then you fulfilled that need has passed. Polet said that today, credit unions must understand members’ propensities and proactively engage them in conversations to that end. If you aren’t having that conversation with them, someone else is.

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company. Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

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