PHOENIX (9/25/15)--It took a lot of effort for Wanda to take care of her nephew. With no car and poor credit, holding a job--even making trips to the grocery store--proved in some cases nearly impossible.
But with First Financial CU’s save-and-borrow product, Wanda was able to take small but important steps toward improving her financial health, and eventually she was able to purchase a vehicle.
Dave Prosser, senior vice president of community development for Freedom First CU, Roanoke, Va., along with two other credit union leaders, presented stories such as Wanda's at a breakout session at CUNA’s Community Credit Union and Growth Conference Thursday to illustrate the need for innovative products to serve the unbanked. The conference is being held jointly with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ annual meeting and wraps up today.
In addition to Prosser, Paul Grinde, community development officer for CoVantage CU, Antigo, Wis., spoke about the importance his credit union places on building strong relationships with members by doing things such as showing them respect.
“We get about 35,000 calls a month, they are answered by a live body in 30 seconds or less, and for 70% of those calls, the person who answers the phone answers the question,” Grinde said. “That tells members that you’re important. We care about you.”
Grinde listed the three keys for creating a culture that’s conducive to healthy relationships:
Finally, Steve Zuckerman, managing director of California operations for Self-Help CU, Durham, N.C., spoke about how his credit union leverages relationships that trusted organizations already have built to reach underserved populations.
For example, immigrant service groups and faith-based groups already work with immigrant populations who typically don’t use or don’t trust traditional financial institutions. Self-Help has reached out to those organizations to provide partner loans with them.