While becoming familiar with the Equifax data, we used CUNA’s annual voter survey to explore how members interact with their credit unions. A white paper summarizing the results shows members are two times more likely than nonmembers to report they have received personalized financial education and/or counseling services at their credit union.
Those interactions are among the top drivers of consumer financial resilience. That’s true in part because a deeper understanding of good financial habits leads to action.
Responses show that members are substantially more likely than nonmembers to establish a financial buffer to shield them during tough times. In fact, nonmembers are nearly two times more likely than credit union members to say they haven’t established a modest emergency savings account to meet unexpected expenses.
Not surprisingly, credit union members are 1.5 times more likely than nonmembers to say they’re “very positive” their financial institution has improved their financial well-being.
Polling results detail similar differences across 10 other dimensions related to financial well-being, including trust, service, and community focus. The results are consistent across all demographic groups, including those in the most financially vulnerable populations.
Working with CUNA’s market intelligence team, we conducted a national consumer survey to measure financial well-being. Conducted in May 2022 by Centiment, the survey employed an abbreviated, six-question poll from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Findings reveal that credit union members reflect a modestly higher level of financial well-being than nonmembers. While the differences are relatively small, they’re statistically significant.
This is consistent with Financial Health Network findings, and it underlines the notion that credit unions should celebrate the difference—but also realize there’s much work to do.
A lack of financial well-being is clearly evident in the population. But credit union members and employees reflect a degree of fragility we shouldn’t overlook.
While we didn’t celebrate it widely (yet), former CUNA economist Jordan van Rijn published four academic research papers in peer-reviewed journals in 2022. These allow us to emphasize that our structure matters, incentives matter, and credit unions’ people helping people philosophy matters.
Against this backdrop it’s not surprising that, based on an independent study of Washington policymakers, Ballast Research recently reported the CUNA-League system is the voice of the financial services industry on Capitol Hill, providing reliable data and research illustrating how policies impact the average person.
For the sixth year in a row, CUNA was named the most influential financial services trade association. Even more impressive, Ballast named the CUNA-League system as the most credible trade association in Washington across all industries.
Data-based proof points are increasingly important in our advocacy work.
Leveraging those proof points with real-world stories around favorable membership outcomes and behaviors has been—and will continue to be—an unbeatable combination.
MIKE SCHENK is chief economist and deputy chief advocacy officer at Credit Union National Association.