A new study finds 58 percent of credit union members are struggling financially, while only about half practice healthy financial behaviors.

That data is among the results of a recent consumer financial health check-up of six credit unions run by the National Credit Union Foundation with the Center for Financial Services Innovation. Among the findings:

  • 58 percent of members are struggling financially
  • Only a quarter of members were highly satisfied
  • About half of CU sample members practice key financially healthy behaviors like saving and planning
  • Members of all ages and income levels are struggling financially

The check-up was the result of a year-long grant-funding effort from CUNA Mutual Group. The CSFI aggregated and weighted the data from the participating institutions, and analyzed the combined dataset.

Gigi Hyland, NCUF
Gigi Hyland, National Credit Union Foundation executive director

“This was a diverse set of participating credit unions with memberships ranging from under 40,000 to over 850,000,” Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director, said in a press release. “The combined survey sample size was over 28,000. The importance of this work is that we’ve known that national statistics show a real need to help consumers stabilize their finances. This work shows those same results but with credit union member populations.”

Participating institutions included:
· Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in St. Paul, Minn.;
· BECU in Tukwila, Wash.;
· Community Financial Credit Union in Plymouth, Mich.;
· IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union in Moline, Ill.;
· University FCU in Austin, Texas; and
· Virginia Credit Union in Richmond, Va.

“Measuring member financial health metrics alongside business metrics enables credit unions to understand whether they are making a quantifiable difference in their members’ financial lives,” Hyland said in the release. “This not only taps into the central mission of credit unions, but also generates insights into products and services involving members’ saving, spending, borrowing and planning behavior.”

Because of the Foundation’s work, it has been recognized as a 2017 Financial Health Leader by CFSI. The Foundation will continue this type of research into 2018.

“Access to this information allows a credit union to purposefully design and deliver financial products that build the financial capability of consumers of all income levels,” Gerry Singleton, CUNA Mutual Group Vice President of Credit Union System Relations, said in a press release. “Doing so builds the economic stability of American families while providing beneficial business opportunities for credit unions.”