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Becoming Mindful about Financial Health... in 4 Easy Ways

posted by Connie Thienes, Product Manager on Thursday, August 17, 2017

You would think working in financial services would keep financial health at the top of our minds. But that’s not really how it works, is it? Like the cobbler who looks right past his son’s shoes, financial pros can sometimes fail to focus on neglected consumer segments.

Thankfully, there are wake-up calls all around us. My home state of Iowa, for instance, just fell from 7th to 14th place in the nation for overall financial security. Nearly a third of Iowans have no savings whatsoever.

I was recently reminded of the need to pay more attention to the financial struggles of the families and individuals in our communities when I attended the Emerge Financial Health Forum. My colleagues and I came away with a renewed sense of purpose – to be mindful of financial health in all things we do, including our daily work lives.

To turn that purpose into action, I set out to accomplish four small things. I wanted them to be simple and natural (so I’d actually do them!). The idea was to put financial health at the center of my responsibilities as product manager.

I’m sharing this list with you in the hopes you’ll be inspired to do the same or similar within your credit union or bank. After all, you have a front-line opportunity to show more Americans the options available to them. Working together, we can put an end to the overuse of expensive and often predatory alternative services used by people struggling to make ends meet.

Here’s what I did…

Participate in CFSI’s #FinHealthMatters day.  My colleagues and I took part in the day by answering the question “Why does financial health matter to you?” We posted our answers to a central spot so the entire office could be inspired. In addition, our marketing team promoted #FinHealthMatters day and its relevance through the TMG Financial Services social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The exercise provided an opportunity to hear my co-workers’ views on financial health, many of which were eye-opening.

Create a visual reminder.  By bulleting half a dozen key points and couple of interesting stories I took away from the financial health conference, I gave myself a visual reminder. Pinned to my desktop (both virtual and physical), the document now helps me stay alert to opportunities for sharing insights and takeaways in every-day conversations.

Recommend “The Financial Diaries.” Written by Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider, the book is a must read, especially for those of us who work in financial services. Some of our employees participate in a book club here at the office. I asked if they would be interested in a book on the ways in which financially challenged families cope.  I also keep a copy on my desk to spark conversation and reference as needed.

Discuss financial health daily. When an off-hand remark about financial health to a senior leader led to the creation of a brand new event, I realized the value of mentioning this important topic as often as possible. Stay tuned for more information on what we’re planning. A full-day workshop, presented in conjunction with CFSI and the Iowa Credit Union League, will help bring credit union thought leaders together to tackle some of the issues faced by struggling families and individuals. 

For more information on the event we are hosting, or if you have any questions on why financial health matters to me, feel free to contact me.

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