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Creating a Culture of Financial Literacy — 

Creating a Culture of Financial Literacy 
By: Adam Carroll, ICUF Financial Education Consultant

March 19, 2012

Credit unions all over the state have begun implementing different financial education initiatives all with the same goal -- create a more financially literate member base.

Yet, just as you wouldn’t build a house on a sand foundation, it’s important to create a sound foundation of financial education in your branches. It’s unlikely that your entire employee base will buy in if there isn’t a culture of financial literacy in the company.

The first and most obvious step to building a culture where financial education is celebrated is to make it a priority for the employees in EVERY area of your credit union. As with any culture change, it begins with the CEO, VPs, and top-level managers. For your employees to embrace a culture of financial education, YOU must embrace the importance, impact, and significance of learning more about managing money.

And then convey that to your people.

By discussing financial matters like credit scores, saving and investing, not overspending, and budgeting in your branch meetings your employees will begin to have those conversations amongst themselves and at home.

Communicate that you have their financial best interests at heart. Consider having each employee pull their own credit and have an education session with them about what each of the codes mean and how to clean up negative information. You might consider offering a financial counselor on-staff that can assist with budgeting, setting up a savings plan, and potentially introductions to a financial planner. Or, promote easy ways to set up a savings and investment plan using some of the credit union’s products.

Let’s face it, your front line staff, loan officers, and marketing team have all sat through training after training on the latest technology or compliance process. What they are sitting through is great for making sure the credit union runs smoothly, but does nothing to promote employee engagement or buy-in to what the credit union stands for.

At your next branch meeting, consider having a financial education session that helps them gain a more complete understanding of their own financial picture. Introduce a financial book club where you discuss personal finance books once a month or once a quarter.

Here’s a list of potential books:

  • The Richest Man in Babylon
  • The Wealthy Barber
  • Financial Peace
  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich
  • The Total Money Makeover
  • Secrets of The Millionaire Mind
  • Your Money or Your Life
  • The Automatic Millionaire
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad
  • The One-Minute Millionaire
  • Debt Is Slavery

By having someone in your branch lead the discussions, you’ll begin to see a hint of interest in the topic, followed by action being taken personally, course corrections on what they’re doing with their own money, and ultimately a culture of financially literate credit union employees that will find ways to make their lives AND the business run more smoothly.

A hint of caution: If you’re serious about creating a culture of financial literacy, understand that it may take some time. This is not a flavor of the month kind of undertaking but one that you’ll have to commit to for at least 12-18 months. If you do, you’ll notice a dramatic shift in the culture of your people. All for the better.

Iowa Credit Union Foundation | 7745 Office Plaza Drive N Suite 170 | West Des Moines, Iowa 50266 | P 800.860.6180 | info@iowacreditunionfoundation.org