5 score straight As in CUNA, foundation fin. counseling program

March 20, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (3/23/15)--A handful of credit union professionals rose to the top of their class recently, the top of the Financial Counselor Certification Program (FiCEP) that is.

Natalie Lange, Christina Reyna, Kurt Shultz, Mary Miller and Lori Murphy-Moullet all received "straight As" in FiCEP, a credit union-specific financial counselor training initiative offered by CUNA's Center for Professional Development and the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program.

"Even though I've been in this profession for a long time, I picked up a lot of valuable information and insights that I'll be able to use both professionally and personally for a long time to come," said Miller, branch manager at Quest CU, Lenexa, Kan. "This course has definitely made me a better credit union employee."

Through the program, credit union leagues and credit unions help prepare members for their financial futures by providing professional financial counseling and education to staff members, insights they then pass along.

"One of the perks of working in the credit union industry is that we don't just have clients, we build friendships and relationships," said Murphy-Moullet, vice president of lending, Helena (Mont.) Community CU. "The training has provided a toolbox filled with resources that allow staff to better serve a wide range of members."

Added Schultz, collections supervisor at CSE FCU, Lake Charles, La.: "This course would be especially helpful for any employee who has direct communications with members: loan officers, collections, IRA, new accounts, marketing, just to name a few. You never know when the opportunity would arise for you to help a member make important decisions about their financial future."

A total of 405 students completed the FiCEP program last year, and nearly 1,400 staff members from 390 credit unions in 25 states have become certified financial counselors overall.

"These five students received the highest honors of 'straight As on all 8 exams,'" said Lois Kitsch, the foundation's national program manager. "(But) all 405 credit union staff who completed the exams now have the knowledge and tools to assist credit union members in reaching their financial goals."

Added Lange, consumer lending manager, Smart Financial CU, Houston: "This course taught practical ways to provide members with the tools they need to take charge of their financial future."

The program enhances services through:

  • Adding financial counseling skills to a credit union's culture;
  • Offering curriculum that allows all staff levels to participate and, in turn, offer financial guidance to members;
  • Increasing a credit union's value to its members;
  • Differentiating a credit union's services; and
  • Transforming the way members handle their financial issues through real-world counseling.

"I have a firm commitment to reach out to employees, credit union members and the community with financial education and financial solutions to empower them to be successful," said Reyna, president/CEO, South Texas Area Resources CU, Corpus Christi, Texas. "The FiCEP program has given us one more tool to enable us to fulfill that commitment."