Unlocking the 5 Keys to a Successful Financial Planning Program

To many people, the term financial planning evokes a feeling of exhaustion and confusion. I know I’m definitely in that category! Knowing this, it is essential that your credit union offers a financial planning program. By providing a helping hand, you will help your members feel less overwhelmed and establish lasting relationships in the process. Whether you have a financial program in place that you are looking to improve or you are looking to embark upon the adventure of starting one, a recent webcast we recorded with Michael Thompson and Barry Dayley from Money Concepts offers some great ideas on the ‘5 Keys to a Successful Financial Planning Program’ for credit unions.

1) The Right People

This reminds me of casting parts for a play. The whole production depends on the right people being cast in the right roles. The entire financial planning team has to share the same values, and program leadership must be able to communicate intent, like a good director leads a play (again with that analogy!). It is also essential to be sure that you hire representatives that keep members in mind and that understand that wealth management is not just a product; it’s about your members’ future.

2) Vision

Just as you want the financial planning team to share the same values, you also want them to have a shared vision. If everyone is running in different directions, it is impossible to get anyone to the finish line (sorry for switching metaphors, but this made more sense!). Define success from the get-go with realistic objectives that are designed to establish relationships with your members.

3) Integration

Integrate financial planning throughout your credit union. If everyone at your credit union is held accountable for putting members first, cross-sales into your financial planning department will inevitably happen. Why do you want cross-sales to happen? You already have a trusted relationship with your members, and financial planning and wealth management is a natural extension. Cross-selling ensures that you are providing members with as many services and resources as possible to help them succeed financially. Success for your credit union and your members makes this a win-win!

4) Monitoring

Keep an eye on your credit union’s progress by measuring tangible results. Taking an analytical approach allows you to identify needed areas of improvement, and will also ensure that your financial planning program produces predictable and consistent results. Analytics should be at the core of everything you do; we measure the results from all we do—from click through rates to website traffic. Besides, how else can you back up your bragging rights when your financial program becomes a success?

5) Recognition

Recognize the hard work of not only your representatives in the financial program, but also the support that makes the representatives successful. Be creative with the recognition your credit union provides! Often, some of the best and most innovative recognition programs are some of the cheapest to implement. One especially creative recognition program that Michael and Barry mentioned was a ‘balloon lottery’ for referrals. These balloons all had different dollar amounts in them, such as five or ten dollars, and if an employee made a referral, he or she would pop a balloon for the dollar prize. Recognition programs like this level the playing field, make all employees feel important, and create a fun atmosphere that motivates employees.

Learn much more about setting up a successful financial planning program from the experts, Michael and Barry, in the full webcast recording.

Post written by Chelsea Sisson, Associate Marketing Manager, NAFCU Services Corp.

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2 thoughts on “Unlocking the 5 Keys to a Successful Financial Planning Program

  1. Chelsea,

    You are on target with your post! I would add a sixth element when it comes to credit unions and financial planning: branding. Members must see financial planning as part of what the credit union does (and not as an “add-on” product or partnership with another vendor). Brandins is key to the integration point you made. Be sure your credit union’s financial planning program/service is not a “step-child” of the credit union but rather part of its overall brand.


  2. My #1 tip for a successful financial plan is to combine your financial plan with debt restructuring. The debt restructuring should be done immediately prior to completing the financial plan. The benefit of doing this is that the debt restructuring may very well free up hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month for you to use to invest for your financial goals.

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