EL SEGUNDO, Calif.-Xceed Financial Credit Union had so much success with the program that garnered it a Credit Union Journal Best Practices Award, the $746-million CU is now planning an expansion.

The credit union is being recognized for its iXceed Fiscal Fitness Challenge, a year-long challenge that followed four employees of Realogy, one of its SEGs. The contestants, operating as individuals or families, worked toward achieving personal financial goals.

According to Paris Chevalier, Xceed's VP of marketing, the contest was a twist on Realogy's wellness program, iThrive, which supports and rewards Realogy associates' commitment to overall well-being in all areas of life.

"We were so impressed we wanted to join in on the fun by adding a financial component," Chevalier explained. "As a result, iXceed, the Fiscal Fitness Challenge, was born."


How Participants Were Chosen

Four teams were selected based on components such as financial need, desire and ability to participate. To apply, Realogy employees logged on to a unique iXceed microsite to submit information about their finances and why they should be selected. The employees were required to be Xceed members to participate, which Chevalier said helped increase new members from Realogy.

Each month, the contestants promoted their financial success stories (or setbacks) through personal videos and online blogs posted on the iXceed microsite. For employees who did not make the cut as one of the selected teams, the site had a section called "Play At Home," which contained links to financial articles, online video workshops, podcasts and financial calculators, as well as tools for developing and maintaining a budget, eliminating debt and protecting a credit profile.

All four teams worked with an Xceed Financial CU "money coach" who reviewed their financial situation and worked on budgeting, setting goals and developing innovative ideas to help them accomplish their financial goals and finish the challenge in better financial situations.

"The teams Blogged monthly and we visited each contestant bi-monthly to video how they were coming along," said Chevalier. "Overall, the four teams saved and/or paid down debt totaling more than $32,000."

Teresa Freeborn, Xceed's president and CEO, said the success of the iXceed challenge at Realogy means the CU will be doing similar programs with other SEGs.

"The iXceed Fiscal Fitness Challenge is an ideal best practice in that it tested and proved a creative concept with one SEG, which then could be tweaked and expanded to others," she said.

Since the pilot with Realogy, XFCU has launched iXceed Fiscal Fitness Challenges with TRG, Wyndham Worldwide and TWA (The Women's Alliance, one of Xerox Corporation's diversity groups), and has more partnerships in the pipeline.

"While the core concept is the same, we have reduced the grand prize, as we determined a $1,000 award was sufficient to generate interest and spur participation-and was a manageable amount budget-wise," said Freeborn.


'Truly Gratifying'

"Since increasing engagement with our SEGs and individual members has always been an important part of the program, we are pleased to report we are still working with some of the contestants from the original Realogy challenge," Freeborn continued. "They are continuing to learn more about personal finance and make great progress toward fiscal fitness, and that is truly gratifying to all of us at the credit union."

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