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Even the smallest financial decision is an emotional one for most people, and Grant Gallagher knows this. As head of financial well-being and brand communications at $4.4 billion asset Affinity Federal Credit Union in Basking Ridge, N.J., it’s become his passion to understand the emotions that drive members’ financial decisions.
“People can walk away from the same experience feeling completely different,” Gallagher says. “But if we can learn what matters to you and what makes you tick, we can tailor our approach and make it relevant to you.”
As an example, he cites a member who spends the bulk of his paycheck souping up his car. Gallagher’s take? “Go for it. That’s where this guy is in his life right now. That’s what he should be budgeting around, not something else.”
Gallagher feels confident that he understands members’ needs. The credit union surveys members monthly to better understand their interactions with the credit union and their financial pain points.
Right now, the most prominent pain point for members is rising costs, he says.
In addition to sales and service training, Affinity Federal trains front-line staff to ask members about their financial well-being. Gallagher, who conducts much of this training, says this type of learning requires lots of one-on-one coaching and trial and error in the field.
“I have conversations with our team members three or four times before it clicks, but once it clicks, they get it,” he says.
Gallagher and his team extend those conversations through its Wellbeing and Your Wallet podcast. Gallagher, Affinity Federal’s Chief Brand and Strategy Officer Jacqui Kearns, and Vice President of Retail Banking Shawn Lubitz host the show in a table talk format that tackles common personal finance topics.
The podcast provides another channel for the credit union to share its financial well-being expertise. Just as important, it also reinforces Affinity Federal’s cultural message that financial wellness is a priority for the organization.
“Our brand is our people, whether it’s on the front line or on our podcast,” Gallagher says. “We want to show people in as many ways possible that we’re living and breathing this. This is a culture we’re very intentional about and very proud of.”