Friday, March 21, 2008

MatriMoney...What else?

Over the past few months, I have been able to talk to dozens of credit union professionals about the great projects that I am working on. The ideas are always well accepted. What we have seen, specifically with MatriMoney is that the oppurtunity and potential use doesn't only exist within the wedding registry idea, but it could be adapted for baby registrations, Quinceaneras, high-school graduations, college graduations, or really any other major life event that gives someone the opportunity to ask their family and friends for gifts.

The great thing about the MatriMoney idea and what it holds, is that operationally there isn't a whole lot that goes into it. The way that it functions and the way that it is marketed, is the key. So to enhance the idea and change it to benefit another "big event" for a member's life, really isn't quite that difficult. Credit unions can use this idea to meet several needs of their members, without limiting it to just the newlyweds.

Isn't innovation fun...projects don't get built and stop, they continue to evolve as the need changes and/or grows.

Here's to innovation!!!!

P.S. Everyone have a great Easter Weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Savings Challenge meet the Financial Makeover

Community America Credit Union in Kansas City, MO has taken the concept of the Savings Challenge and given it a make-over, a Financial Makeover to be exact.

After the successful pilot of the Savings Challenge at GECU in 2007. Three credit unions decided to join the Savings Revolution and hold Savings Challenges of their own. A+ FCU in Austin, TX and Connex CU in New Haven, CT both implemented their own Savings Challenges for 2008. Community America CU put a little different spin on things. They took the concept and applied a little of their own flavor to it. The Financial Makeover was born.

The concept is still the same. They are helping four families meet their financial goals. As you can imagine each family doesn't have exactly the same goal. Instead Community America is helping them meet the goals that will improve their financial well-being. The Morrows are working towards "Budget Management," the Weinands are working on "Long-term Planning," the Carmichaels are in "Financial Recovery," and the Blinzlers are "Regaining Control." WOW, each family is going to be making changes in their lives to drastically improve their financial well-being.

And guess can follow along, because each family is going to blog about it. That's right social media at its finest, connecting real credit union members to, well, real credit union members.

I would encourage you to check out their stories, what they have experienced, and the motivation that they have to make a change in their lives. Do you have members just like these four amazing families? I will bet you do. What is your credit union doing to help them make a change?

Like several others, Community America figured it out!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Way to go Neighborhood CU!!

Neighborhood CU in Dallas, TX is on the ball when it comes to more ways than one.

In addition, to being one of the early implementors of the Prize-Based Savings program, Neighborhood CU is also leading by example with the services that they provide to their baby boomer members. Neighborhood CU was mentioned on the Today show as a credit union that is a great deal for baby boomers. The feature was on how banks are catering their services to meet the needs of baby boomers, and Neighborhood CU was one of those featured institutions.

Click here to see a video clip of the show.

During the "Money" section of The Today Show, Jean Chatzky their financial editor, was telling them about great deals for baby boomers. While mentioning a few banks and the services that they provide, she also mentioned that there are several credit unions that are doing thing for baby boomers. She specifically mentioned Neighborhood CU and that in additon to giving their members several free services, they also throw in a trip.

Nice work Neighborhood CU!!

Friday, March 7, 2008 do you want it??

We are looking at two ways to get MatriMoney to the members?

Again I want to know what you prefer, and which your CU is more likely to grab onto. There are two ideas behind MatriMoney and what it can/should look like.

The first: Is the traditional CU implementation of MatriMoney. The CU will pick it up, they will use the established brand name and maybe even some consistent collateral, but how it will be handled will be based solely on the discretion of the CU. Have a look at North Island CU and Mountain America CU, they have both established some excellent MatriMoney wedding registry programs. Both are prime examples of an example implementation of MatriMoney at a CU. It certainly serves the purpose of the member, and that is the ultimate goal.

But here is a little bit bigger idea. Lets say that a a CUSO or some other CU oriented organization wanted to pick up and develop MatriMoney into a very in depth online registry. The members can establish goals, they will receive common collateral, and this will allow for online deposits to the account via Credit/Debit Card, ACH, and auto-drafts. So potentially Aunt Suzie in Germany who can't fly in for the wedding, can go online and deposit a gift without leaving home. You are thinking, well that is cool, but where is the CU involved?? The idea is that any and all CUs that want to participate will be able to "link up" with the MatriMoney website. The CU will actually be the account custodian, not the website, the website just provide a detailed online tool, to gather deposits for the account. So the individuals would be required to be members of a participating CUs to use the product. This would allow members who go to their CU to get the account and individuals that just heard about it and want to get it, can join a CU locally that they qualify for. (New member acquisition)

So that wasn't exactly easy to put in type, but I think you should be able to grasp the concept. In respect to what we are doing, we will continue to find and help CUs implement MatriMoney on a CU level, but we are also exploring the idea of finding a partner to develop the project to meet a much larger potential.

So I want your thoughts!!! As a CU rep, do you think that your CU would be more likely to take this develop and implement it themselves? OR Would they choose the other path, that is likely quicker, with less required development and join in on the much larger scale? What fits your CU best? What do you think is the potential for MatriMoney?

I look forward to your feedback it will be very useful moving forward. Thanks!!!

Chance at Large Prize or a Garunteed Small Prize

Which do you and/or your CU prefer for a Prize-Linked Savings account??

As we continue to develop the Prize-Linked Savings (PLS) concept, we are looking at two different avenues for the prize. I want to know which is better in your opinion, which appeals to you more, and if you represent a CU, which will most appeal to your membership?

***Not sure what a PLS is? Let me give you the basis of the PLS in one 3 short sentences. PLS is the idea that members are more likely to save money if they are given a chance to win a prizes and/or a large cash prize. For every (insert $ amt. here) they deposit to their PLS they get an entry into the drawing for the prizes for that month, quarter, and year. Okay now back to my question...

The first (traditional) construct of the product, is to have monthly prizes of vary value that range from several at $20, $50, $100, and even one at $1000. Of course in many cases, prizes such as iPods, TVs, etc., fill in for cash prizes. Then there is a larger quarterly prize, and an annual prize of $10k to $15k, depending on the CU. This prize is guaranteed and will be given away to one lucky member.

The second construct is a chance at a much larger prize. Say for each entry the member has a 1 in 1 million chance at winning $100k at the end of the year. This prize is not only non-guaranteed but the chance of someone/anyone winning it is very small. In addition to this large non-guaranteed prize they will also be able to similar monthly prizes as in the traditional construct.

So the main difference is that the CU can either give a member $10k or they can underwrite a chance to win $100k. So which do you prefer, if there will be smaller prizes won, would you rather play and be guaranteed that someone would get the $10k, or would you rather play and know that you have a chance to win $100k, an amount that most likely will not be given to anyone.

Which do you prefer? Which is a better fit for your CU? Which would your membership prefer? Thanks for the insight.

P.S. Your opinion could have an impact on how this product develops in the future.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bring on the Implementation

So I finally make it up to Madison, WI, the center of CU world and otherwise known as "Mad City." The very first thing on my list of to-dos over the next 2 days is walk on the frozen lake. In Oklahoma, lakes dry up in the summer, they don't freeze in the winter. But being the dare devil that I am and seeing all the crazy ice-fisher guys out in their little tents, I brave the cold and ice and find myself on the frozen lake, alone and cold.

I will say that the trip did get a bit warmer, I got to meet dozens of great credit union people. I had the pleasure of touring the Credit Union Center, CUES, and even a little of downtown. I have two thoughts that stuck out more than anything from my tours:

First: The Credit Union Movement changes lives. I used to think it just consumed them for people like myself, but it really does change lives. While touring the World Council, I was able to see what all we do for people who are truly impoverished. If you are not already supporting the World Council in some way, I challenge you to do so. The Credit Union Movement makes differences in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I hope one day 40 years from now I can look back and know that I was a part of something so huge.

Second: Credit unions can make a difference and they can change. What credit unions have done in the past is amazing, what we are doing the present is awesome. But if we want to do more then just exist in the future, but really expand to provide great and fair services to people all over. We need to not just talk about change, and admire change, but we must make change happen. The world is changing at a sprint, credit unions can't take baby steps and think that they will keep up. I challenge you to not just talk about change but embrace it and keep the Credit Union Movement moving forward.

I want to say thanks to Maureen for setting up such an action packed 2 days in Madison. I got to meet alot of great people that I look forward to working with in the future. I believe that we as a movement can make a difference in millions of lives that don't know what a credit union is yet. "People helping People" is what we were founded on, and it is what we will continue to do.

How do we make a difference, how do we make change happen? You guessed it, IMPLEMENTATION. That's where you come in...