in Consumer Awareness & Advocacy
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO
Last week we published a Legacy Series blog post on United Poles FCU highlighting how they were founded by thirteen members of the local Polish community to help recent immigrants and residents overcome language and other barriers impeding access to basic financial services. That fits perfectly with the goal of the Legacy Series, communicating how credit unions are different than banks by telling origin stories.
The idea for the blog post came from a meeting with Iwona Karpeta, their CEO, who told us how United Poles FCU was founded. But it wasn’t the only interesting idea to come from the meeting.
Iwona talked about how important children’s accounts were to their overall growth and engagement strategies. Children’s accounts are not exactly a new concept in banking, but what struck me was the way Iwona talked about leveraging them to reach Millennials as an overt part of their engagement and growth strategy.
Saving is a strong part of the Polish cultural heritage, and United Poles FCU leverages that to reach younger generations. It is typical to see accounts established when a child is born and children being encouraged to save from their earliest days. Families bring kids into the credit union where they get to know the tellers and other executives, make deposits – and get lollipops and other treats, too. By the time they grow up, they are a part of the family, and the credit union is their natural choice of financial institution.
United Poles FCU also provides information on how to teach children financial independence as a guide for the ‘parent and grandparent’ target audience (https://www.unitedpolesfcu.com/lc_kids.html) -
JOIN - As a start, open a savings account for each child in your family at the Credit Union. As soon as your children can write, they should learn how to fill out deposit and withdrawal slips. Guide teenagers through using a debit card and balancing a checkbook.
SHARE - Include your children in your household finance discussions. Show them how you budget income and expenses. As their skills improve, give them challenges—such as finding a better cell-phone plan, calculating the total monthly cost of owning a car, or sticking to a budget with back-to-school or holiday spending.
COACH - Remind your children to ask for help when they need it. And turn to the Credit Union when you want help. Our tradition of service and philosophy of self-help make United Poles FCU a natural partner in pursuing financial security.
There are requirements and limits associated with these accounts that drive home the lesson of saving. The maximum eligible age for these accounts is 17, which is a natural transition time of life when young adults start needing other financial services, everything from credit cards to student loans and mortgages. More details are available at https://www.unitedpolesfcu.com/d_kids.html.
The credit union takes it a step further with their outreach beyond the walls of the credit union. United Poles FCU sponsors kids’ activities at local schools or simply donates their time to help schools organize activities. This, as Iwona explained, helps create a deeper relationship with the families the credit union is trying to reach—something that goes beyond just managing finances.
We all struggle with figuring out how to attract and retain Millennials, including our High School-focused Reality Fair programs through our Foundation. The first impression is always the most important, so maybe part of the answer is reaching them well before they can even comprehend an ad from a bank. For those of you that already offer children’s accounts – are they just one more option for parents and grandparents, or are they well-integrated into your long-term growth and engagement strategies?