The Financial Wellness Program

When you love what you do and are able to help members with their financial needs, there is no place I’d rather be. Here at Kohler Credit Union, we’ve developed a Financial Wellness Program to assist our members realize their maximum financial potential. From members who may have stumbled upon hard times, to those that who have invested all their lives, we’ve created a program that isn’t just another product checklist, but a means to develop a relationship with each member to understand their unique situation and help them realize their financial dreams.

There have been many changes since the beginning of the Next Top Credit Union Executive competition!  The Wellness Program task force has implemented several upgrades since the launch of this initiative.  First was training material. A lot of times, written training material can be difficult to understand and easy to breeze over. In order to bring a realistic approach to training, I created a video series for our Member Service Representatives (MSR) to get them familiar with key talk-off points and transitions during a wellness check. As you can see here, Paul Hanesworth and I step through a real-world situation and demonstrate best practices for member conversations. Not only did this training material serve as an introduction to what a conversation would look like, but it also helped clarify the expectations for our MSRs. Proper training and clarification has helped our staff members understand the material and get excited about our new approach to financial wellness.

In order to evaluate our members and understand what their financial opportunities are, another large enhancement to the program was our training flashcards. You might think of flash cards as elementary, but there is no better way to break down something that is more complex in nature, into simple situations that are easier to understand and execute. Simple transactions and key words may initiate a need and lead into an opportunity to perform a Financial Wellness Check Up. I created a series of 15 scenarios for our front-line tellers to get familiar with, and have fun during their member interactions.  

Our financial wellness program enhancements have already had a large impact for Kohler Credit Union.  We’ve seen an increase in our overall production and our referral rates. In July of 2014, Kohler Credit Union, year to date, had closed $3.8 Million in loans based on referrals from the retail branch. In July of 2015, Kohler finished the month with $1.4 Million dollars in closed referrals and $8.4 million dollars year to date. Over the last two months there has been a 31% increase in total referrals sent across our organization from the retail branch and an 8% increase in loan closing percentage. When creating the key metrics for the Financial Wellness Program, we wanted to keep the company’s objective to increase the net loan balance by 14% in mind. Because of this objective we put a heavy emphasis on loan dollars and referral percentages as success indicators. Numbers don’t lie and we are well on our way to exceeding all expectations.

Although we’ve had much success, that success did not come without some bumps in the road. The biggest challenge that we’ve encountered is the inconsistency of our messaging and approach by each MSR. The Wellness Check-Up program is a different way of approaching a conversation with a member.  This new approach has taken a lot of training and discussion in order for us to convey that change is okay. With the assistance of training material, group brainstorming sessions, and retrospectives, we’ve been able to improve the program and respond to our staff’s questions and concerns.

You might as well have fun while you work, and that is exactly what I’ve been doing. Although working on a new initiative can become overwhelming and stressful, our Financial Wellness Check-Up program is paving the road for the future. We’ve always taken care of our members at Kohler Credit Union, but now we’ve taken it to the next level. Our members are more like family, and if you’re family, you want the very best for them. Just as you keep up with your annual doctor and dentist appointments, we are educating our membership that financial wellness check-ups are just as important. This is only just the beginning, you wait and see!

Ryan Manis