Our littlest members

September 15, 2016
in Leadership
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The little ones are key to some of our greatest relationships

Some of my favourite interactions with members are often with the members who have the sticky fingers, wild imaginations and are barely tall enough to clear the service counter. Our junior members are fascinating to me for so many reasons—not to mention that you never know what they are going to say. When I set up accounts for kids, I usually ask them what they would do if they had all the money in the world. It goes without saying that I’ve had some great responses:

“Buy a house with a huge pool!”

“Have my own ballet studio!”

“Buy my dad’s company, so I can be his boss!”

“Give it away to people who need it more than I do.”

“Buy a super-fast orange and green race car.”

My favourite colour is orange, so, obviously, I was partial to the last one.

Smiles aside, conversations like these have made me pause and reflect on just how important our smallest members really are. Our youngest members today are our pillar members of tomorrow. On more than one occasion, when I ask an existing member how long they’ve been with the credit union, they reference back to their “Doodle Dollar Days” or whatever their first account was called, because the act of opening it was such a memorable experience for them.

Remember the junior member who wanted the orange and green race car? Their mother came into the branch after she heard about the credit union from some employees who went door-to-door the week before. It prompted her to walk in, check out our services and then open accounts for her family. She thanked me multiple times for making the experience one her kids wouldn’t forget. When we give importance to what our members feel is important, we lay the foundation for those longstanding relationships. A conversation on a doorstep turned into two junior member accounts, which turned into a financial snapshot with their mother, which turned into reviewing of alternate options for banking and a potential MasterCard.

All of this, no doubt, turned into a series of conversations for the family around the dinner table. I’m sure the children talked of the exciting adventures they had at the credit union that the day. I’m sure the parents talked affectionately of how their kids were one step closer to owning that super-fast orange and green race car, and perhaps of how they can continue planning a bright financial future for their family. That’s not all. By taking the time to invest in the experience of our junior members, we were able to maximize their understanding of banking basics, including what an autograph on documents means, why we check ID, what’s different about cooperative banking, and the principles of having a financial plan—and, ultimately, shape their financial perspectives and allegiances to a financial institution for a lifetime. A recent survey we did here at First West Credit Union showed that only 24 per cent of parents polled feel extremely confident about teaching their kids about money—so every interaction with our junior members is an opportunity to equip them with vital financial literacy life skills. That’s something they’ll remember. Our littlest members are key to some of our greatest relationships. Never take for granted the smallest of beginnings, even if they’re only three feet tall.

–Shalane Wellard | Money Advisor, Cloverdale branch, Envision Financial

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