Uncover Financial Anxiety to Increase Deposits, Loans and Loyalty!

I hope you and your staff are staying healthy and hopeful in these very interesting and challenging times! We all need to focus on those things that will help our staff and members. With that in mind, if you want engaged and proactive staff, loyal members, and more loans, check out my article below published in Credit Union Business News.

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?

Financial, Wellness, Barbara Sanfilippo, High Definition BankingImproving 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 Strategy

  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 important 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 there?”  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!

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

How We Can Help Virtually?

If you would like your staff to confidently offer appointments and have engaging and valuable customer or member conversations, feel free to contact me. I will be happy to take time to understand what you want to accomplish and provide guidance on how to avoid the pitfalls and make it a success. We can discuss virtual training options. Let’s plan a tailored and memorable presentation! For an exploratory call, click Contact Barb, email Barb@HighDefinitionBanking.com, or call me at 858-674-5500 x101

Learn about us at www.HighDefinitionBanking.com and be sure to view my demo video by clicking on the graphic below.

Thanks for reading this post and sharing your observations!


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