Wisconsin CU League News Release - 5/30/12
Researchers say credit unions' online investment ed program positively changes behavior
Pewaukee, WI - Investor Education in Your Workplace®—a program developed with the help of Wisconsin credit unions—positively impacts investing behavior, new research shows. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that employees improved their financial behavior after taking part in the program’s ten-part online education series, covering topics such as "Basics of Investing," "Investing in Mutual Funds" and "Working with Financial Advisers."
After taking the series, 8% of the participants reported opening an individual retirement account, 6% reported establishing a written budget, and 5% each reported drafting a written financial plan and saving for three months of expenses.
In a report for the Filene Research Institute, J.
Michael Collins, PhD, assistant professor and director of the Center for
Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin, said the research
“supports the idea that remote learning tools like online
education can improve financial knowledge and lead to better financial
behavior. That’s promising in a cultural environment that
increasingly prizes on-demand information access.”
The program, made possible thanks to the Investor Protection
Institute and Investor Protection Trust, encourages credit
unions—and thereafter, other employers in their
communities—to offer voluntary, online investment education to
employees. It is the first program of its kind using credit unions to
engage thousands of citizens in voluntary, workplace-based investor
During the pilot phase of the program, from 2009 to 2011, each credit union employee completed 10 hours of self-paced study of basic investment concepts online. Fourteen of those grads completed more advanced online study to become Certified Financial Educators® (CFE®) through the Heartland Institute. They, in turn, encouraged participation by additional companies. In Wisconsin, 5,476 learners from 80 credit unions and 24 Wisconsin businesses completed 60,000 hours of investment training.
The program has been used in three states to encourage proactive
investing and – as a result of additional states expected to adopt
it – has become one of the nation’s fastest growing
workplace-based investment education programs. It is expected to
stimulate many millions of dollars in investing nationwide. In 2011 the
program received a Wisconsin
Financial Literacy Award.
Credit unions are participating in the project as part of their REAL Solutions initiative, which helps people of all incomes build wealth. As not-for-profits that have no stockholders, credit unions’ role is to help people regardless of profit.
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