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Wisconsin CU League News Release - 03/01/10

 

Wisconsin credit unions win fourth Governor’s Award for educating 3,520 staff on investing


Effort positions the nonprofits to stimulate proactive investing by “financially unprepared” Wisconsin families

 


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Contacts

 

Chris Henzig
Director of Communications
(262)549-0200, Ext. 6019
chenzig@theleague.coop

 

Chad Helminak
Web Producer and Media Relations Manager
(262) 549-0200, Ext. 6012
chelminak@theleague.coop

 

 

Pewaukee, Wis. – Wisconsin credit unions are receiving their fourth Governor’s Financial Literacy Award in five years for an investor education project that is involving 3,520 employees from 80 credit unions in more than 30,000 hours of online investment education. The effort – which is the largest of its kind by financial institutions here – is part of an ongoing study of how investor education can motivate investing behavior. It positions the co-ops to urge greater investing by their members - more than half of 2.2 million credit union members in Wisconsin.

 

“Even though more Americans began saving and paying down debt last year for fear of losing a job, too few are investing regularly – something they’ll need to do to stay afloat financially beyond their working years,” said Brett Thompson, President & CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, which is coordinating credit union involvement in the effort.

 

“Credit unions felt that by educating more of their staff on their own savings and investment options, they could be more proactive in helping steer members toward resources, whether in-house, online or within their communities,” he said.

 

While most people will be responsible to provide for their own financial security later in life, Thompson explains, studies have found that the majority of Americans appear not to have done any retirement planning.

 

Individuals from virtually every facet of credit union operations participated in the project that kicked off last October and will continue through early 2011. Dubbed “RP3,” or REAL Progress & Pathways to Prosperity, the project engaged participants in approximately 10 hours of online learning about investing concepts including setting goals, distinguishing among investment vehicles, managing risk, diversifying a portfolio, maximizing tax advantages, understanding mutual funds and working with investment professionals.

 

The first phase involved 53 credit unions, whose 1,623 employees completed the courses in December and achieved passing grades averaging 88.17%. Their knowledge of investing concepts – determined by comparing a pre-test to a post-test following completion of the coursework – had increased 28.27%. In January, another 1,897 employees from 56 credit unions began the coursework. At its conclusion, the 18-month project will have collected enough data to see to what extent the learning had on participants’ investing behavior and what factors - like income, age, etc. – influenced success.

 

Credit unions, which are depositor-owned financial institutions, see their role in stimulating investing by state residents as part of their mission to better position their member owners for long-term financial success. As not-for-profits with no outside investors, credit unions’ role is to help people, not chase profits.

 

The study is being conducted in partnership with the Puelicher Center for Banking Education at the Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Precision Information, the Wisconsin Credit Union League, Governor Doyle’s Council on Financial Literacy and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. It is being funded by a grant from the Investor Protection Trust (IPT), a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Since 1993 the IPT has worked with the states to provide the independent, objective investor education needed by all Americans to make informed investment decisions. Visit www.investorprotection.org.

 

Over the past five years, Wisconsin credit unions have earned three other Governor’s Financial Literacy awards. The most recent, in 2009, recognized credit unions for their 86 in-school credit union branches that instill in students the habit of regularly saving money. A Governor’s award in 2008 honored credit unions for providing free to all Wisconsin public high schools the brass|STUDENT PROGRAM, whose lifestyle money magazine and online tools for teachers and students support state teaching standards for financial literacy. Their first award, in 2006, honored credit unions’ overall, statewide REAL Solutions initiative, which teaches families to save and build wealth.

 

Winners are chosen by the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy, a Governor-appointed team of individuals and organizations seeking to improve financial literacy efforts around the state.

 

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