Category Archives: Credit Unions

Budget Talk: The $2 Billion Ontario doesn’t seem to want

Ontario is seeking budget input from Ontarians but there’s been no action so far on an old budget item now worth $2 Billion

There’s approximately $2 billion in Unclaimed Property that is sitting with various organizations across Ontario that needs to be returned to hard-working Ontarians. $2 Billion would also serve the Ontario budget in a big way now and in years to come.

Ontario is the largest jurisdiction in North America without an unclaimed property law to protect consumers. While Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989 the statute was not proclaimed into force and the legislation was repealed 22 years later in 2011. The 2012 budget announced Ontario’s intention to try again and create an unclaimed property scheme that would mirror that of the US where legislation has been in force for over 50 years. And yet, there has been no follow-up from consultations that occurred in 2013.  Why  ?

We submitted an 8 page document advocating for the rights of Ontario residents for this legislation during consultations in 2013. We and jurisdictions around the world feel pretty passionately that Unclaimed Property is an important aspect of consumer protection that is missing in Ontario. The estimated $2 billion + in unclaimed/lost financial assets for Ontario comes in a variety of forms including unclaimed bank/trust/credit union accounts, insurance policies, share certificates, dividends, unclaimed wages, bonds, pensions and other property types including prepaid funeral deposits and utility deposits etc..

Unclaimed Ontario savings bonds alone total more than $65 Million.  

The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) has more than $3 Million in unclaimed trust accounts. No one knows what the total of Unclaimed accounts held by Ontario credit unions would total because for the last 20 years, Credit Unions have been waiting for further instructions.  Legislation would ensure that any organization in Ontario holding unclaimed or lost deposits or financial assets would transfer them to the Province and a comprehensive database would be available for Ontarians to look for those assets while the Province or a related agency would proactively look for legal owners.

Despite the fact that no ones loses track of their assets on purpose  and assets generally become lost as a result of a tragic event or forgetfulness, in Ontario there is no law that requires the holders of unclaimed financial assets to look for the asset owners. So no one including the Province is looking for you if your Great Aunt Martha purchased a life insurance policy for you or if your Grandma Shirley opened a credit union account for you when you were born. We would argue that`s not “very Canadian” .

Legislation would be a win/win for Ontario residents and the Province of Ontario as unclaimed financial assets are typically utilized by the government or jurisdiction that holds those accumulated assets until claimed. The USA has more than $58 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets being used in this way. Unclaimed assets are sadly becoming a larger part of the revenue for many states including most notably California and New York.
While facts are sparse given a lack of legislation across Canada (outside of Alberta and Quebec where legislation has been enacted), there has been an alarming increase in unclaimed financial assets in recent years. Given aging demographics and the digital world in which we live, that increase will probably rise significantly. So why is Canada and Ontario in particular so far behind other jurisdictions like the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK etc?

More importantly, why is a cash strapped Ontario government not following up with Unclaimed Property legislation that they started re-discussing in 2012  ?

Does the government of Ontario really have too many other pressing priorities that might be as advantageous as Unclaimed Property Legislation both from a financial and consumer protection perspective  ?

It’s time for Ontario to catch up and do what is right for Ontario taxpayers/residents and their the Provincial treasury. Have your say during budget consultations with Ontario by linking to the Province of Ontario here   We have and we hope you will share this post with others if you agree with the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation in Ontario.

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

Unclaimed Credit Union Accounts in Ontario

Inaction is a disadvantage for Credit Unions in Ontario

There’s so much to love about Credit Unions but when it comes to providing Credit Unions an equal playing field in Ontario, I can’t help but feel that the Ministry of Finance is putting them at a disadvantage by their inaction. The inaction I’m referring to relates to their apparent disregard for Unclaimed or Dormant credit union accounts.  This inaction & disregard is not helpful to Credit Unions and it’s certainly not helpful to the client/members those Credit Unions serve.

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts can be hard to find

Unlike Unclaimed accounts held by federally regulated banks, Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario are hard to find unless you know the exact Credit Union you or a loved one dealt with.  Federally regulated banks are required to remit unclaimed accounts that have not been active for 10+ years to the Bank of Canada where a searchable online database is available; that database currently includes $532 Million of such accounts. What would be the total value of Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario ? I’m pretty sure that no one inside the Ministry of Finance or outside has any clue. And that’s the problem.

The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 (20 years later)

One might assume that a similar system would be in place for unclaimed credit union accounts held in Ontario as there is for accounts held by federally regulated banks in Ontario. It’s 2014 after all and the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 set out the guidelines for Unclaimed or dormant accounts in that legislation. But…

Alas…that’s not the case. While the Ministry of Finance expects that Credit Unions are following the rules around notifications to dormant or unclaimed account holders, they have not yet gone as far as having those Credit Unions remit those accounts to the Ministry as intended.

Why?

Why has it taken 20 years to direct Ontario Credit Unions to where they need to send all of those unclaimed credit union accounts that have been forgotten?

I’ve asked the Ministry of Finance again recently this question. After much delay the Ministry responded but failed to answer that very question.

Here’s their reply

  • The government recognizes the importance of ensuring that individuals who hold dormant deposit accounts at credit unions are aware of the status of their accounts and have access to the funds held in those accounts.
  • The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 requires that credit unions provide notices to depositors whose accounts are dormant at regular intervals. For example, depositors must be notified 2 years and 5 years after a transaction has last taken place in the account or since the depositor last requested or acknowledged an account statement.
  • We understand that credit unions have systems in place to ensure unclaimed deposits are properly monitored and that depositors are informed.  If an account is dormant for more than 10 years, credit unions are required to remit the amount to the Minister of Finance when directed to do so.
  • The Minister of Finance has not yet specified a date when the funds should be remitted to the government

We hope you will find the information provided useful.

Sadly, No. The information provided by the Ministry of Finance recently is not very helpful; not very helpful at all. And, most certainly, the inaction on the part of the Ministry of Finance with regards to Unclaimed Credit Union accounts is generally not helpful to Ontario Credit Unions or their members.

Let’s be clear: No one loses their hard earned/tax paid financial assets on purpose.

Ontario credit union members deserve to have one place to search & find their Unclaimed Credit Union accounts. Let’s get it done Ontario.

Perfect storm in the financial services market

A Perfect Storm ?

A Perfect Storm in the financial services marketplace for a personal financial management (PFM) tool 

It certainly feels like a perfect storm is unfolding at the moment that we think provides an opportunity for financial organizations & professionals to provide clients with a personal  financial management tool offering a Win/Win benefits.

The challenges are many:

  • Demographics: Aging/Sandwich Generation/Smaller families
  • Demographics: Increased longevity/Rise in incapacity
  • Increasing need for enhanced financial literacy
  • Increased risk related to Inter-generational wealth transfers ($41 Trillion)
  • Push to ‘paperless’ reporting
  • Increasing Complexity of personal finances/impact on executing estates
  • High levels of personal financial stress impacting productivity in the workplace
  • Increase in the number and impact of natural/physical disasters highlighting the need for emergency preparedness
  • The need to differentiate in the marketplace due to fierce competition
  • Higher expectations from clients to show value for fees
  • An alarming rise in the balance of unclaimed financial assets ($63 Billion)
  • Increased appetite for technology tools particularly from younger generations to manage their financial lives
  • Continued procrastination on the part of individuals & families to have important conversations about estate planning/final wishes

A little organization can make a BIG difference.

LegacyTracker helps clients simplify, safeguard & share their important financial & estate info, documents & to do’s with loved ones and/or advisors.

Better Organized Clients are Better Clients.

LegacyTracker can provide a Win/Win solution for Organizations:

  • Enhanced Loyalty/Retention/Referrals by demonstrating Customer Advocacy
  • Better Differentiation in the market
  • Better Insight into the challenges & needs of clients for products & services
  • Improved engagement/collaboration with clients (“Do More”)
  • Reduced costs related to marketing/on-boarding
  • Increased Revenue/Profit

We think that all leads to Increased Revenue/Profit on your bottom line with happier clients

Get in Touch/Connect for the details

 

International Credit Union Day

Happy International Credit Union Day !

Credit Unions are an important feature of Canadian Life

Co-operative financial institutions are owned & democratically controlled by their members & Canada has a long history of having a strong co-operative financial services sector with Credit Unions playing a significant role. Indeed, Canada has the world’s highest per capita membership in the credit union movement, with over 10 million members, or about one-third of the Canadian population belonging to one. That makes them 100% Canadian owned. In over 380 Canadian communities, they are the only financial institution, offering essential financial services for those local economies. However, all Canadian Credit Unions pride themselves on having a local focus:

  •  More than 736 credit unions (and caisses populaires) in more than 3,100 locations
  •  Over 10.2 million members
  •  $303 billion in combined assets
  •  More than 27,000 employees

The Canadian credit union system contributed more than $49.3 Million through direct donations, financial services, sponsorships, scholarships and bursaries in 2013 (up from $35.6 Million the year prior)

The 2014 Ipsos® Best Banking Awards for the 10th consecutive year has reported that Canadians have ranked credit unions first among all Canadian financial institutions for:

  • Overall Customer Service Excellence
  • Branch Service Excellence
  • “Value my Business”

Credit unions tied for first among all financial institutions for :

  • Financial Planning & Advice
  • Automated Telephone Banking Excellence and
  • Live Agent Telephone Banking Excellence

Read more about the Ipsos® Best Banking Awards here 

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business,  Credit Unions also outperform all banks in serving small and medium-sized enterprises. Credit Unions have been ranked #1 by CFIB members in 4 of the last 5 of their triennial surveys (2000,2003,2009 & 2012) . Read more here 

Credit unions also boast a very rich history of innovation.

Thank a Credit Union for many of these “Firsts” that for the most part, we all now take for granted:

  •  First financial institutions to lend to women in their own names (in the 1960s)
  •  First to offer daily interest savings
  •  First full-service ATMs
  •  First fully functional online banking
  •  First loans based on borrower character
  •  First payroll deduction service for deposits and loan payments
  •  First open mortgages
  •  First home equity lines of credit
  •  First debit card service.
  •  First registered education plans.
  •  First branchless bank (Citizens Bank)
  •  First cheque imaging service

So Happy International Credit Union Day ! A day that internationally, is a day to recognize the positive impact that Credit Unions make in their communities around the world. ICU Day. Have a good one.

Credit Unions across Canada matter. You can read more of the facts behind recent changes announced in the 2013 Federal Budget here 

CUNA_ICU_Logo_Final_WC

Unclaimed Credit Union Balances

Finding Unclaimed Credit Union Balances – no easy task

We’ve made no secret of the fact that we love Credit Unions but…

Why is finding an unclaimed Credit Union balance in Canada so …complicated to say the least ?

There`s over $532 million in unclaimed bank accounts held by the Bank of Canada. This balance is made up of Canadian dollar accounts held originally by a federally regulated bank where the account was inactive for a period of 10 or more years. The Bank of Canada makes available a searchable database of unclaimed bank accounts which anyone can search here 

Although we remain disappointed about the fact that the Bank of Canada`s searchable database does not include inactive accounts held in a foreign currency (since they are very familiar with exchange rates), the process and the rules seem simple enough.

If only Canada had such clarity in the case of unclaimed accounts held by Credit Unions or Financial Cooperatives !

Alas, Credit Unions and Financial Cooperatives are provincially regulated and unfortunately, each Province has their own rules (or doesn’t). More unfortunately, only 3 provinces currently make available a searchable database available to the public (Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia)

Here`s a short rundown on what we know about Unclaimed Balances held by Credit Unions in some (apologies-not all) Provinces across the Country:

Alberta: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances are transferred to the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC) which holds the money for another 20 years before it is considered revenue for Alberta. As of 2013, the CUDGC held some $1.36 Million in unclaimed accounts.

British Columbia: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances over $100 are transferred to the BC Unclaimed Property Society which holds the account indefinitely. A searchable database is available here 

Nova Scotia: After 7 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to the Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC).  The CUDIC holds the balance in perpetuity. As of 2013, the Nova Scotia Credit Union reported $577 Thousand in unclaimed accounts. A searchable database is available here 

Quebec: After 3 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to Revenu Quebec where the balances are held for 30 more years for amounts over $500 or 10 years if the amount is less than $500. A searchable database is available here 

Saskatchewan: After 6 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts worth more than $5,000 are transferred to the provincial Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corp. The balance of unclaimed accounts in 2013 was $244 Thousand. A searchable database is expected to be available soon

Ontario: Section 182 of the Credit Union and Caisses Populaires Act in Ontario notes that accounts that have been inactive for a period of 10 years are to be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Minister`s directions. Unfortunately, those directions have still not been provided despite the fact that the Act became law in 1994. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario which administers the regulations pertaining to Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires in Ontario, can not provide us with any detail as to why there has been a delay of 20 years by the Ministry of Finance in providing `directions`. Yikes.

That’s more than unfortunate for account holders or heirs in Canada`s most populous Province who should be able search & claim accounts that they are legally entitled to in one central place.

We are left to wonder why Minister of Finance in Ontario seems so indifferent about this matter given the state of finances in Ontario and the fact that this would be a welcome help to families who have for one reason or another lost track of an account

This ‘Mish Mash’ of rules and procedures depending upon your jurisdiction, is a Good Reason to safeguard your financial assets & all of your financial and legal information in a secure and accessible location. We have one for you –  LegacyTracker.

the Millennial Mind

Millennials rising: With the power to be disruptive (in a good way)

This interesting infographic on the (mysterious?) Millennial Mind highlights how Millennials have a devotion to Authenticity, Community and Giving & comes by way of PSCU : The Millennial Mind

PSCU initiated a Make your Money Matter Movement recently to help leverage what they know about the Millennial generation to attract, engage & move millennials to Credit Unions.  Based on what we know about Credit Unions and what we are learning about Millennials, that makes good sense. It seems to be paying off based on the results that PSCU has posted. It’s an interesting and insightful read.

There’s no question: Millennials (born between 1976 & 1994) think differently than older generations and they definitely have the buying power to be disruptive especially with their fresher attitudes towards living life in a friendlier manner and their preference for using technology to manage that life. PSCU summarizes it as “Millennials are drawn to business models in which extending the life and value of good s is a core tenet”

We like the way millennials think .

We can help financial service providers attract millennials with a technology offering to help them manage their busy financial lives going forward.

 

 

 

Age of the Customer means it’s about ‘them’

I thought a recent article by Aldo Cundari (of Cundari) was worth passing along and summarizing,. Although his article “How Did we get to the Age of the Customer is tag lined with “how digital turned talking to consumers on its head”   so there’s your clue

How did we get to the Age of the Customer?                  (because yes we are there)

Aldo attributes the evolving state of marketing that happened over the course of the last few years to the age of digital where all consumers can now do their own research on what they want  and research reviews & options like never before. That makes “Shopping Around” quite different and that makes marketing products & services a lot different too; not to mention some additional BIG challenges like social media, hyper competition, product proliferation and globalization added in to the mix.

So, if we are shopping differently now, (becuase this does sound a lot like the way I shop), .then..the question becomes more about…

How to best serve those potential Customers when they arrive and ask their final questions to ensure they do become your Customers…

Indeed, the customer is empowered now like never before with information in order to purchase. Whereas, 10 years ago, it was more about the Information Age, it’s now evolved into the Age of the Customer. They’ve got the info  which has lead to the disruption and change in the way consumers behave, purchase & engage and because of that, they have higher expectations. The consumer is driving now and leading and he warns, Organizations who ignore this shift will suffer.

Here’s the difference of the Past vs the Present as Aldo Cundari has presented it:

The past:  

aldo 2

 

 

 

 

The present:

 

aldo 3

 

 

 

 

I like how Cundari summarizes what all this means: now that the Customers are in the driver’s seat as he says:

Marketers need to re-evaluate their approach and look deeper to understand, empathize and help customers meet their needs through their new purchasing and decision-making behaviours.  I think that sounds a lot like Customer advocacy. 

We appreciate Customer Advocacy and we think your Customers will as well. LegacyTracker demonstrates Customer Advocacy by helping them meet a lot of challenges by helping them:

  • Simplify & safeguard their details
  • Become more empowered with those details in order that they can become more proactive about their Financial & Estate Planning,
  • Enhance their level of Emergency Preparedness and
  • Facilitate important conversations with loved ones & family that they too often delay.

Connect with us about LegacyTracker 

 

Read more: Strategy Online – How did we get to the Age of the Customer

 

 

 

 

Perfect Storm Challenges and Solutions

We think there’s a perfect storm coming in the financial services market with challenges being faced by both consumers and the providers they deal with. ….LegacyTracker can help 

Too extreme? Maybe

We’ve been collecting some evidence in the form of published surveys, research & articles for quite some time. We think all of that reading and collecting has paid off. We think there’s a lot of evidence to support the need for LegacyTracker which is our personal financial management tool . This is an ongoing list in no particular order from our growing collection of supporting surveys, articles and research. Note: George Clooney did not help with this project; he was busy filming the Perfect Storm among his many other activities.

From Digital Insight: The  88% of consumers who now pay bills and transfer funds online, 62% would like a single place to manage their complete financial picture, no matter where the information originates. Households on average have more than three financial institution relationships for wealth and savings solutions and up to six credit card accounts. LT: Legacy Tracker provides a safe & accessible place to safeguard all of the important information and documents in life

2011 US Trust Insights on Wealth Survey: A survey of wealthy Americans with $3M or more of investable assets 56% of those surveyed have not documented personal property and assets, and roughly half have not documented instructions about the distribution of personal property or assets among heirs; even though 25% acknowledge their heirs don’t understand their wishes for how to divide special possessions LT: Helps consumers safeguard their hard-earned assets & can help facilitate important conversations with family members and loved ones about estate planning or final wishes 

2008 Innovations in Retail Financial Services IG&H Consulting & Interim, Woerden:  In financial services these days, a lot of companies struggle to win in severe price competition. However, a financial institution should develop it’s business on long-lasting & customer value driven business models; price is not enough. An element could be innovation.            LT: Helps financial service providers innovate & differentiate their offerings

2011 Banking on You by Thomas Watson, Canadian Business Magazine: Canada’s biggest banks are desperately trying to find new ways to connect with customers. Increased competition has heightened the banks’ interest in offering value and quality to customers, and forced banks to form individual identities. “The ability to introduce new fees is limited, raising the importance of gaining share through better service, broader relationships with clients and growth markets” (Margaret Willis, HSBC Executive VP of Retail Banking and Wealth Management) LT: Helps financial organizations differentiate in a busy marketplace and provide a meaningful way to demonstrate customer advocacy which can deepen client relationships

2011 Canadian Life & Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) : A national online survey of 1,504 Canadians over 18 by Leger Marketing showed only 26% of Canadians think their personal and financial information would be easy to access in an emergency. 56% said their personal & financial information is “somewhat organized” while 11% said it was “not very organized”  LT: Helps users enhance their level of emergency preparedness and by safeguarding important financial legacy & information

2010 Intuit Financial Online financial management survey: Banking customers view online financial management solutions from their bank or credit union as competitive differentiators. 52% of those surveyed said they would leave their current financial institution for one that offers better money management capabilities. Nearly 50% of respondents said they’d already switched banks or credit unions recently. and one-third of them switched because their financial institution did not provide satisfactory online solutions LT: Financial institutions need to offer their customers more in the way of tools & solutions that help them manage their money –a differentiator in the marketplace

 2011 Investment Executive Magazine – Prevent Executor headaches Bank of Montreal Survey confirmed CHLIA’s figures, almost 50% of Canadians who have been appointed to be an executor of a will have experienced administrative “complications” More than 25% have experienced legal issues. “If everything is not written down and documented, the difficulty in sorting out the mess can tie up the settling of an estate (Carol Bezaire, VP of Tax & Estate Planning with Mackenzie Financial. ” Technology has made some things invisible. In their capacity as executors, in some cases, the bank has had to take possession of the deceased’s computer and hire experts to search the hard drive to find crucial information (Royal Bank Estate and Trust Services)  LT: Reduces financial risk for individuals & their loved ones of unclaimed funds for families but it also safeguards families from incurring additional grief in the form of additional delay, cost and stress in times of emergency

2013 For the Love of Money Blog  Are you finances organized? Get into the habit of organizing your finances and you’ll be in for some happy surprises. …..The truth is, we create needless work and worry for ourselves when we do not make a little effort to get financially organized. Often, the biggest leap to getting a house in order is getting over a negative mindset. A lot of people are unwilling to organize their finances because they think there is simply too much to do.  LT: We provide the place for consumers to get organized & stay organized. Simple on boarding and Simple to stay updated. Our built-in net worth tracker & alerts are intended to motivate you to stay up to date

2011 Investment Executive A New Focus on Financial Literacy by Keith Costello of CIFP     A new focus on Financial Literacy “What we have heard (The Canadian Institute of Financial Planners) is the need for unbiased but comprehensive learning materials. Consumers want content that will help them understand financial concepts in a more detailed way and that will guide their financial decisions. We should ensure that these types of materials are readily available” “there is no better marketing and brand positioning than investing in your customers”  LT: Providing tools and opportunities to enhance financial literacy will pay off for financial services providers-by way of better engagement and increased revenue opportunities and ultimately the success of their clients  

2011 Investment Executive Having the “talk” with your clients by Brent Jolly  As most clients have experienced lower investment returns over the past 5 years, it is becoming more challenging for advisors to demonstrate their value to clients. LT: Our online solution allows Advisors to offer a valuable tool to clients and their families, allowing them to safeguard financial assets and some assistance in facilitating discussions about estate planning. Advisors in effect are provided an opportunity to reach out to the next generation

 2013 21st Century PFM for a Mass Audience  Capitalizing on the power of personal finance management will first require the industry to break free of 1980s thinking about
who uses PFM and why. Today, 21% of U.S. consumers mix and match 1 or more of the 3 primary sources of PFM services:  1) desktop software, 2) bank PFM offered through online banking 2) bank PFM offered through online banking, or 3) web PFM offered through an explosively growing number of online and mobile players. That translates into 49.3 million adult users – and 191 million who use none of them.  Financial institutions are at risk of losing loyalty from PFM hungry customers.

We’re not exactly done. We’ll add to this list as we find the time. We’ve got lots more to add.

Customer Advocacy is a Competitive Advantage

Forrester Research is a global research and advisory firm that provides insight and guides clients on business, technology, marketing & strategy decisions in a few different industries including Financial Services, Retail and Healthcare.  They are well considered and well sought after thought leaders. 

Customer Advocacy

For the past 10 years Forrester has been highlighting the importance of Customer Advocacy — as being critical in the eyes of Customers of retail financial services. They define Customer Advocacy as being the perception held by Customers that the firm they do business with does what’s best for Customers & not just what’s right for the firm’s own bottom line. Forrester considers Customer Advocacy as being the key driver of loyalty at retail financial services firms which in turn, yields the most sustainable revenue growth for financial services firms. Last year, in their most recent report Forrester suggested that while Customer Advocacy, has always been a smart strategy it has now become an imperative. Demonstrating Customer Advocacy and showing an obsession while both serving and delighting customers is an unbeatable source of competitive advantage Forrester believes, which can survive technology-fueled disruption and provide disproportionate growth. 

Customer Advocacy when demonstrated, makes clients and account holders feel that their financial services provider truly acts in their best interest and that makes those customers want to invest more, borrow more and buy more from that firm. Free Cappuccino or Free Pens will Not have the same impact.

LegacyTracker is all about showing and providing Client Advocacy – for your Client but also their families.

You can get their report here 

2013: How US Customers Rate Their Financial Services Firms

For 10 years Forrester has shown that customer advocacy — the perception on the part of customers that their firm does what’s best for them, not just the firm’s own bottom line — is the key driver of loyalty at retail financial services firms

2012: How US Customers Rate Their Financial Services Firms

When customers feel that a financial services firm acts in their best interest, they are willing to invest more, borrow more, and buy more products from that firm. We call this corporate trait “customer advocacy” — the perception on the part of customers that a firm does what’s best for them, not just what’s best for the firm’s own bottom line

2011: How Financial Services Firms Win Loyal Customers

Marketing leaders at top-ranked financial services firms have found the secret to loyal customers. Forrester calls it customer advocacy: customers’ perception that a firm does what’s best for them, not just what’s best for the firm’s own bottom line.

2010: How Canadian Customers Rate their Banks

Forrester’s research shows that a key driver of customer retention and deeper customer relationships is a trait we call “customer advocacy,” the perception by customers that a firm does what’s best for them, not just what’s best for its own bottom line. When Canadian customers rate their primary banks on customer advocacy, credit unions come out on top, followed by President’s Choice Financial. Four of the big five banks get below-average scores from their customers. 

 

A Tall Order for Credit Unions-Challenges & Opportunities

Credit Unions are trusted financial institutions with a legacy in financial services but like many financial organizations, they are facing more challenges than ever in the financial marketplace. A November 2013 survey  of 547 Credit Unions was undertaken by Sundeep Kapur of Allied Solutions alongside the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (USA) to identify and look at some of those challenges. Regulatory Compliance is always a challenge.

But the results showed many of the challenges today are related to determining HOW TO:

  • Provide member value to last a lifetime
  • Grow Member relationships beyond an average of 2.5 products per member
  • Attract & retain members by creating deeper relationships
  • Increase both Self Service & Digital Channels & Connections with members
  • Help/Mentor members learn what they need to know
  • Compete with non traditional financial organizations
  • Do more with existing members (especially if they are using another partner currently)
  • Reduce marketing costs from an average of $9-$11 per consumer and/or receive specific or better return on that investment

Or In Summary: How to reduce costs, increase member engagement and drive incremental revenue because Credit Union Members want Convenience, Knowledge, Recognition, Services and Innovation while having higher expectations, questionable loyalty to a brand , and lower attention spans A Tall Order to be sure, but these are the key benefits that we truly believe LegacyTracker can help your Credit Union with.

If you would like to read the survey, you can download it here 

What are Credit Union Leaders worried about?

Innovation in Banking TRends

Banking Innovation in 2014 = Simple Simplifcation

Simple Simplification

The study of 148 banks in 66 countries around the world by Infosys summed up the trends in innovation in those banks as being about all about Simplifying.  Customers, regulators and bankers seeking simplification in Banking.

Interesting because LegacyTracker is all about helping Clients/Account Holders simplify: Enabling financial customers to safeguard all of their important financial/legal and estate information & documents simply in one secure, accessible place. Which is why we developed LegacyTracker as a white label product that can be your branded product. You be the Hero.

 

Co-operative Banking makes sense

Facts, Firsts & Future Prospects for Canadian Credit Unions

In 2013, for the 9th consecutive year, Canadians ranked Credit Unions First in Overall Customer Service Excellence among all financial institutions based on the annual Ipsos Best Banking Awards Survey which is based on various key performance indicators.

That’s a pretty good indicator that Credit Unions are doing Customer Service “Right” And that’s just one reason that I think they have a really large & bright future ahead. There are a lot more. 

This statement has nothing to do with the fact that we think Credit Unions are a perfect partner provider for Legacy Tracker (they are). But rather, the fact that they ARE a perfect prospect for LegacyTracker is because their fundamental approach to how and what they do is similar to our goals for LegacyTracker.  We also wish many more businesses could operate in the same way, but that’s a BIG wish. It’s also a BIG challenge for those where their stock price is always expected to go higher.

However, the fundamental approach that Credit Unions operate under is a quite a bit different than Big Banking. For Credit Unions and other co-operatives, it’s more about …

Profits for a higher purpose and Banking for a higher purpose

Credit Unions and other Co-operative financial institutions are non profits that have a dedication instead to the people and the communities they serve . That dedication, guides and shapes their operations, their business decisions and their governance. That makes for a critical difference. 

The Credit Union Difference makes a Difference in Service

This fundamental difference in the way Credit Unions & Co-operatives operate can be sourced back to the very first Credit Union or Caisse Populaire that was founded in Levis, Quebec in 1900 by Alphonse Desjardins . Mr Desjardins launched a new type of financial entity in response to what he saw as outrageous interest rates being charged to labourers and farmers. A movement towards what was termed co-operative banking where a financial institution was owned & run by members caught on;  particularly by  those who were  being “underserved” by larger financial institutions. Today, approximately 1 out of every 3 Canadians belongs to a Credit Union or Caisse Populaire giving Canada the world’s highest per capita membership in Credit Unions. With over 330 different Credit Union Brands and over 1,700 locations, they are easy to find and easy to join.

Account holders in Credit Unions today, continue to be considered as the shareholders members, or owners  of each Credit Union. As such and in the spirit of any good democracy, each of those owners is provided with 1 Vote (regardless of the size of their wallet) to decide help guide the Credit Union’s direction and to determine who will lead that direction or form the Board of Directors. Those members can also put their name forward for to serve on the Board of Directors.

By comparison, our much larger, federally chartered/publicly held banks are required to operate in the best interest of their shareholders but those shareholders may or may not include account holders unlike Provincially chartered Credit Unions where the shareholders are also the account holders/customers. That makes for a really BIG difference.

Operating in the best interest of their members means Credit Unions will redistribue profits on a regular basis to members and also give back in a BIG way to the local communities where those members live. In 2012, Canadian Credit Unions contributed more than $35.6 million to communities in the form of direct donations, sponsorships, scholarships & bursaries and donations-in-kind. It’s a pretty nice Win/Win that makes paying interest or fees a lot more palatable, knowing that they contribute to profit which you or your community will benefit from down the road.

Having said that, Credit Unions do tend to charge lower fees while offering higher rates of interest on your savings.

The fact that it’s not all about BIG profit for Credit Unions may also account for the very rich history of innovation that Credit Unions can boast about:

  • First financial institutions to lend to women in their own names (in the 1960s)
  • First full-service ATMs
  • First fully functional online banking
  • First loans based on borrower character
  • First payroll deduction service for deposits and loan payments
  • First open mortgages & home equity lines of credit
  • First debit card service
  • First registered education plans
  • First cheque imaging service
  • First to offer branchless banking (Citizens Bank)

If you are looking for just a few Good examples of the Good Work that Credit Unions are doing in the Community, follow along just below. If you happen to work with a Credit Union and wish to find out how LegacyTracker can help your Credit Union provide even greater value to your members, please get in touch !

FirstOntario Credit Union recently partnered with the New Hamilton Innovation Hub/Collaborative workspace that traditional lenders turned down Read about it here

Libro Credit Union offers Community builder Grants to help youth develop leadership and career skills in the Communities they serve. In 2014, those grants total approximately $560,000  Read more here   They also offer Money School online 

DUCA Credit Union who recently launched Canada’s first 100% online service to members, including New Members sign/up (via “SNAPP”), donates 4% of profits to the community and commits an estimated $500K to the Ontario Credit Union Charitable Foundation Read more here

Doing good for Members & Doing good for Others makes a difference for many of us when we are looking for who to do Business with ourselves. & that should make the future very bright for Credit Unions

We do think that LegacyTracker is a perfect fit for Credit Unions to offer to their members/account holders; so if you work with a Credit Union or are a member of one…pass our name along or Connect. (Please)

The Boom for Financial Tech around the World

 Global Fin Tech Investments hit $3 Billion in 2013

Accenture’s newly released 16 page report  ‘The Boom in Global Fin Tech Investment’ highlights that:

  • Global fin tech financing has tripled over the past five years
  • Silicon Valley based companies account for 1 of every 5 Fin Tech deals and 1/3 of funding allocated to Fin Tech
  • Europe accounts for 13% of all Fin Tech funding globally/15% of all global deals
  • However, London is now outpacing Silicon Valley on the basis of 5 year growth
  • The UK (specifically London) and Ireland-based companies taking the lion’s share of Europe’s Fin Tech deals.
  • The UK and Ireland represented 53% of Europe’s Fin Tech deals and more than 2/3 of Europe’s Fin Tech funding at 69%

Accenture on fintech

To get Accenture’s 16 page report go here 

 

 We think we are a good fit !

Credit Unions Core Values

Credit Unions Core Values

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today in Canada there are approximately :

326 Credit Unions working with approximately 5.3 million members in approximately 1,741 different locations who also happen to contribute approximately $35.6 million in the form of financial donations, scholarships in kind donations and volunteerism to the communities they work with.

The Brand Attributes & Values that Co-operative Banks and Credit Unions all share that make them a little different have to do with the importance they give: Community, Participation, Social Responsibility, Customer Service, Ownership, and ..Profits for a higher purpose.

It’s a “here to serve attitude” which we both appreciate and share. 

Co-operatives and Credit Unions ensure members are front and centre given that those members are also the Shareholders which also explains why most often… fees are a little lower, interest on savings are a little higher, Giving Back to the local Community is a Bigger priority and those who might be under-served elsewhere are often served very nicely…thank you. 

Not unlike many financial organizations today, however, the challenges are many for     Co-operatives and Credit Unions: 

  • How to Differentiate in a very busy marketplace
  • How to attracting younger generations (including heirs/next generations)
  • How to maintain or improve member retention by meeting member needs
  • How to show innovation
  • How to continue to show relevance and value
  • How to do more/be more with existing clients

Unlike their larger competitors, Canadian Credit Unions also have to work hard to maintain that higher member/customer satisfaction rate that the Annual Ipsos Best Banking Awards Survey has bestowed upon them for 9 years straight by being First in Overall Customer Service Excellence. The Pressure !

LegacyTracker offers many benefits for users (and their families) which all centre on simplifying, safeguarding and sharing important information that can make a difference. It’s a Personal Financial Management Tool that goes beyond Finance and into Estate Planning and being prepared for a What if scenario that no one wants to think about. It’s about working towards reducing the alarming growth in Unclaimed Financial Assets that are estimated to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $63 Billion + in North America.

That’s why we think offering LegacyTracker to Members would be another Big way that Credit Unions can demonstrate Customer Advocacy.

Customer Advocacy as defined by Foresters  is shown when customers feel that their firm does what’s best for them, not just the firm’s own bottom line 

Customer Advocacy is a really BIG deal that many of us are looking for today. Foresters for the last 10 years has indicated that it’s a key driver of customer relationships and loyalty in the retail financial service market which yields the most sustainable revenue growth. In their most recent report, Foresters has suggested that Customer Advocacy is not just a strategy but an imperative now and a necessary competitive advantage.