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In the past, credit unions could expect to enroll workers from select employee groups (SEGs), provide better rates on loans and deposits, and offer “share draft” accounts. The relationship was straightforward, with the emphasis on credit and the members’ common bond.
Today, the proposition is much more nuanced as consumers employees have more choices than ever in financial service providers.
Educators Credit Union in Racine, Wis., is digging deeper into its SEG relationships to meet those challenges. Educators offers personal financial wellness counseling and education to its SEG employees.
“Research shows that a healthy employee will be more productive at work,” says Brett Nielsen, business relationship director at the $3 billion asset credit union. “We align financial wellness and education with health and physical well-being. If a member is behind on their credit card payment or is worried about how they’ll make their next mortgage payment, that’s a real source of stress. It affects their performance and, ultimately, the company’s performance.”
Educators has roughly 50 SEG relationships in its Southeastern Wisconsin service area, and it’s Nielsen’s responsibility—or pleasure, as he describes it—to meet with members in both one-on-one and group settings.
“We gauge the needs of each employee group,” he says. “They’re happy to reach out to us. For example, fraud is a huge issue and it’s a real source of anxiety for members. We can sit down with several hundred SEG employees, present a module we’ve prepared, and then answer all their questions.”
One-on-one counseling requires a more direct and comprehensive approach, says Nielsen. “Typically, we look at everything—car payment, mortgage payment, credit cards—then we try to find a way to consolidate them all and get people working on a budget.”
But Educators’ financial wellness for all isn’t limited to budget planning and education. Nielsen says the credit union wants to make its financial services a seamless experience for all members.
In 2019, when Aurora Health Credit Union merged into Educators, Nielsen spearheaded an effort to develop a concierge service for doctors transitioning on contract to Advocate Aurora Healthcare.
“These doctors need new cars and homes, and they need to develop a financial relationship,” he says. “We’re here to help them.”
Just as importantly, Nielsen and his team go the extra mile to deliver service.
“Obviously, doctors are very busy, and we want to make their lives as easy as possible,” Nielsen says. “We made one car loan and I told the doctor I was ready to deliver his car. He said he didn’t want to inconvenience me. I told him, ‘Going the extra mile is part of my job.’”
In 2020, Educators received a CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Diamond Award for its concierge service.