THE CFPB PRO­GRAM CUS AC­TU­ALLY LIKE

Credit unions make a big deal about their fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts, and for as much as the move­ment has found rea­son to loathe the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau, many CUS are of­fer­ing rave re­views for the CFPB’S fi­nan­cial em­pow­er­ment pro­gram.

Credit Union Journal - - Contents - BY NATHAN DI­CAMILLO

PER­HAPS THE ONLY THING MORE SUR­pris­ing than hear­ing credit unions praise a pro­gram from the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau is the ex­tent of the praise.

For Kayce Bell, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer at Alabama Credit Union, one of the biggest ben­e­fits to the bureau’s “Your Money, Your Goals” fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy cur­ricu­lum is it’s scrubbed so clean CUS can use it with­out hes­i­ta­tion, she said, adding that much of the in­for­ma­tion in­cluded in the pro­gram’s tool­kit didn’t re­quire any edit­ing.

The CFPB launched “Your Money, Your Goals” in 2014 after a year of field test­ing. The ini­tia­tive was put in place as a way to bet­ter equip front­line so­cial ser­vices staff with fi­nan­cial em­pow­er­ment teach­ing skills. And while plenty of changes are likely in store for the CFPB in the wake of for­mer di­rec­tor Richard Cor­dray’s de­par­ture and Mick Mul­vaney’s shift from Pres­i­dent Trump’s bud­get di­rec­tor to act­ing CFPB di­rec­tor, this pro­gram is not ex­pected to see any changes, and should still be avail­able for credit unions and other or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“It’s been de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate one-on-one con­ver­sa­tions,” ex­plained Patty Avery, a CFPB fi­nan­cial em­pow­er­ment pro­gram spe­cial­ist. “Each year we en­gage a new co­hort of or­ga­ni­za­tions. We al­ways learn from them.”

To date, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has trained more than 19,000 front­line staff and vol­un­teers, and credit unions have been a part of that train­ing.

One of the fo­cuses be­hind the pro­gram is en­sur­ing that it is both com­pli­ant and adapt­able for users. If Bell wants to change word­ing or add in ma­te­rial of her own, all she has to do is at­tribute the CFPB in her pre­sen­ta­tion.

“It’s highly adapt­able,” said Avery. “It’s up to you how you use it and when you use it. You make it yours be­cause you know your com­mu­nity.”

Bell has found tools such as bud­get­ing and cash flow anal­y­sis to be the most help­ful.

“You’ve got to know how you’re go­ing to pay for a new washer or dryer or car­pet,” she said. “Your ex­is­tent spend­ing or in­come plan has to ac­com­mo­date.”

Karen Smith, the di­rec­tor of out­reach ser­vices for Mon­tana Credit Unions for Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, said the cash flow anal­y­sis tools help mem­bers see where their money is go­ing. “I think just the as­sess­ment it­self — just to have some­body sit down and do that as­sess­ment — helps them keep their sav­ings on track,” Smith said.

For all the com­plaints many CUS have about the CFPB, Bell had one bit of praise: its web­site for the fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy pro­gram, she said, is bet­ter than many ven­dors of­fer­ing sim­i­lar prod­ucts. “They have the abil­ity to cre­ate some re­ally nice web con­tent with an­i­ma­tion or videos or slide decks that make these ma­te­ri­als more en­gag­ing.”

Smith uses the cur­ricu­lum to build out a re­fer­ral pro­gram for CUS. The Mon­tana league in­vites part­ners and credit unions to par­tic­i­pate in train­ing ses­sions.

“Those part­ners can then tell cus­tomers, ‘You should re­ally go talk to A-B-C credit union; They’re go­ing to help you get on top with your debt,’” Smith said.

Smith said “Your Money, Your Goals” is one of the bet­ter fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy cur­ricu­lums she has seen in 14 years at the league. The tool­kit ap­proach, she noted, al­lows train­ers to use the most rel­e­vant mod­ules.

“It’s not ‘Start at the front and work your way through,’” Smith said. “If there’s an is­sue man­ag­ing their debt, you can jump into that area, pull some use­ful tools and help them man­age their debt sit­u­a­tion.”

Jill Carl­son, di­rec­tor of train­ing and com­mu­nity re­la­tions at Mid­min­nesota Fed­eral Credit Union, feels the pro­gram en­cour­ages train­ers to em­power mem­bers to make their own fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions.

“I don’t think it’s my­self or the case worker telling them what to do,” she said. “It’s a part­ner­ship that way … It’s more like what are your ex­penses, in­come and let’s do the plus and mi­nus.”

“You’ve got to know how you’re go­ing to pay for a new washer or dryer or car­pet. Your ex­is­tent spend­ing or in­come plan has to ac­com­mo­date.” — Kayce Bell, Alabama Credit Union

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