Best Life Podcast | Altra Federal Credit Union
Best Life Podcast | Altra Federal Credit Union
Episode 8 - Financial Wellness
/

This month, Altra Federal Credit Union debuted a new tool to help our members measure their overall financial wellness. This month’s episode is all about the Best Life Financial Wellness Quiz which can be found on our website at altra.org. The two-minute quiz lets quiz takers know what they’re doing well, and what could use improvement in four key areas: Spending, Saving, Borrowing, and Planning. Lori Horstman and Cheryl Dutton, Altra’s VPs of Member Experience and Marketing, respectfully, give us more information about the quiz and its importance. John Thompson, the President of Attune (attune.co), also joins the podcast via video to talk about how his company, along with the Financial Health Network (finhealthnetwork.org) helps organizations measure and improve financial wellness.

Transcript

(Tony Beyer)

Hello and welcome to the Best Life Podcast where we here at Altra Federal Credit Union are helping you live your best life. I’m Tony Beyer and I’m so happy you’re here because today’s topic is an exciting one! I mean, I’ve been excited for all of our topics, but this one in particular is very near and dear to my heart…and also my work at Altra…and that is financial wellness…and as the Financial Wellness Coordinator at Altra, helping others improve their financial wellbeing is something I’m passionate about…and in this episode we’ll be talking about a new tool Altra has to help you assess your financial situation and connect you with resources to help you stay financially healthy.

In just a moment, we’ll speak with someone who’s company helped us develop that tool, John Thompson he is the President of Attune, it is a company that helps companies measure financial wellness…pretty cool, but first I’d like to introduce Lori Horstman, she is our VP of Member Experience here at Altra…welcome to the podcast Lori:

 

(Lori Horstman)

Thanks Tony for Having Me

 

(Tony Beyer)

…and I’d also like to welcome to the podcast a familiar voice. She was actually on our podcast talking about nonprofits and the Netgiver App a couple of months ago, our VP of Marketing Cheryl Dutton, welcome back to the podcast Cheryl

 

(Cheryl Dutton)

Great to be here Tony

 

(Tony Beyer)

Excellent! So we were talking all about financial wellness today and I’d like to start off with you Lori, what is financial wellness and why is it important?

 

(Lori Horstman)

I think Financial Wellness is really important just because, you know, it provides our members and our staff with really the knowledge and the information that they need to make informed decisions. I think it takes you know, if you’re financially well, you’re going to really have less stress in your life because you’re not worried about where you’re going to pay your next bill. So that’s why I think it’s really important. It’s important to know where you save your money, how you spend your money, and that’s really what we’re talking about here today.

 

(Tony Beyer)

And Cheryl, I wanted to get your thoughts on financial wellness and just how do you define it, and why is it so important?

 

(Cheryl Dutton)

Well, as Lori said, it’s the cause of a lot of stress and so being well, you need to be financially well, and we’re early on in this journey by providing tools and best practices to help our members be more financially well and recognize where they are in wellness.

 

(Tony Beyer)

And some Thing Altra has done to help our members with financial wellness and really identify where they are, we’ve partnered with a company called Attune, they also work with the Financial Health Network, and they have helped us with the Best Life Financial Wellness Quiz that is available on our website at altra.org, and Cheryl, I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about what it is and what those taking the quiz can learn from it?

 

(Cheryl Dutton)

Right Tony, we partnered with the Financial Health Network. They’ve been doing work like this for the last couple of years, and really it’s a two-minute quiz. It’s not a survey, it’s not a major research project. It takes just two minutes for you to complete, but it will tell you where you are on the spectrum of financial wellness and it will help you with tips and tactics to get more financially well and to achieve your goals.

 

(Tony Beyer)

Ah, that is fantastic and Lori, I wanted to ask you, you are out VP of Member Experience, want to ask about our members, you know, why is it important that members would take this quiz, what can they get out of it, and what is Altra hoping to provide with all this?

 

(Lori Horstman)

Yeah, I think for our members, it’s a great way for them to pulse check, so to speak, where they’re at in their financial wellness journey and to really look at what areas are they doing very well in and what areas maybe there is there an opportunity for them to improve and it’s strictly confidential, as Cheryl said, it took takes a very short period of time, but it’s confidential and at the very end, it really gives you some good information as far as what do I need to do. So, it’s not like you have someone looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do, you get to choose what you want to do and what area you maybe want to focus on and I think for our members long-term, it helps them develop kind of a long-term strategy for, you know, setting themselves up for retirement and what they want to do long-term, and I think that’s a benefit to everyone, not just the member but, you know, society as a whole.

 

(Tony Beyer)

Excellent points there, when it comes to the quiz. Like we said, it’s only two minutes. It’s very, very quick, it doesn’t take much time, gives you a lot of information, it’s a great assessment of what you’re doing well maybe areas of improvement, and Lori, I was curious what information do we gather with this and what would you say to any to anybody that’s hesitant about taking this quiz?

 

(Lori Horstman)

Yeah, there’s really only about, I think there’s like 10 or 12 questions. It’s not really that long of a survey and really what we’re getting at is, you know, how do you go about saving, do you do save at all? Do you need to think about how you want to save for the future? We look at kind of your spending. You know, how often do you pay bills on time versus how often are you not paying them on time. We look at some of those Insurance things and some of those retirement things as far as planning. So, I think that, it covers all of kind of those four core areas of what I always like to term as life skills, to make sure that we’re developing those life skills, so that we have the resources to be successful, and be able to, you know, retire. If you really want to retire at 65, you can retire at 65.

 

(Tony Beyer)

Yes, absolutely. If we can help, help our members do that, absolutely! We want to do that, and Cheryl. I wanted to ask, I know that we’ve just rolled this out a couple weeks ago, where do we see the quiz going and are there any plans to enhance the program or anything like that in the future?

 

(Cheryl Dutton)

Absolutely Tony, so we have set up a page on altra.org with a bunch of financial resources. There’s Banzai, there’s coaches, there’s GreenPath, there are so many ways that we can help our members be financially well and so we will continue to add resources, we’ll continue to guide our members, I mean, our mission is to make all Altra members financially well and so they can retire as Lori mentioned, or they have enough money to help their children with college, or maybe they just have a dream that they want to accomplish and we can help them do that.

 

(Tony Beyer)

Absolutely. It’s all about that vision that we have, you know helping our members live their best life, which is definitely, you know at the heart of what we’re doing here at Altra, and to talk a little more about the quiz, which you can find at our website, it measures financial wellness, we’d like to welcome to the Best Life Podcast John Thompson. He is the president of Attune and we really appreciate you taking the time for the podcast John.

 

(John Thompson)

Great. Thanks, Tony. Looking forward to the conversation.

 

(Tony Beyer)

I’m looking forward to it as well. So John, tell us a little bit about your role with Attune, and also tell us about Attune and how it relates with the Financial Health Network.

 

(John Thompson)

So the Financial Health Network is a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. It’s been around about 17 years now, and the mission of the organization is to improve financial health for all. So, it’s about 80 people in the organization focused on working with credit unions, banks, fintechs, and the surrounding ecosystem to find ways to include the customer, the member, the employee, is part of the problem we’re trying to solve. We’re not just trying to make money, we’re not just trying to drive value for shareholders. In the process of doing this work we’re actually trying to help people as well. So, you know, the organization is really focused on helping the companies that we work with do that better. So that’s the Financial Health Network. I’ve had the pleasure of working there for about eight years and I’ve been up for almost the entire lifespan, I’ve just been around the organization. You know, it’s a such an inspiring mission to kind of connect the outcomes for members with the outcomes of the business. You know, and that’s a natural thing for credit unions but you know if we’ll talk about here in a little bit, we’re trying to make that more real more actionable, more quantifiable, and to the second part of your question the Attune platform, specifically, and its online, at Attune.co, it represents a piece of work that we did at the Financial Health Network during 2020. To take all of the work that we had built around measuring financial health and turn it into a technology platform that companies can use to measure the financial health of their members, of their employees, and then, of course, help improve it.

 

(Tony Beyer)

That’s great, and John, it sounds like what’s at the core of what you guys are doing is talking a lot about financial wellness, financial health, why do you think financial health and financial wellness is so important and why have you made this your mission?

 

(John Thompson)

I think couple of reasons. First of all, of course, it’s personal to all of us, you know, each certain person, each family, each household in a lot of ways, this is what we want because being financially healthy, financially well, allows us to do the things that we want in our life and do it with confidence and without anxiety, so, on and so forth. So, from a personal standpoint, it’s fairly obvious, but if you were to look for example at, you know, almost every credit union, website, or banks, or other kinds of companies, they say they want to help their customers or that they’re in business to help their customers, or that they actually do it, but how do they measure that? How do they know it? How do they connect the things that a family, a person wants for their life, for their financial lives with what they actually do? And so part of why we invested in this concept of financial health is we can connect the outcome that a person or a family desires with a set of metrics that a business can manage to because that’s what businesses do, you know, set goals, they achieve those goals, they exceed those goals, and so we’re trying to build something that allows a business to connect their outcomes with their members outcomes.

 

(Tony Beyer)

Yeah and talking about those outcomes, I was curious John, when you look at those results not only from our quiz, but also quizzes that you’ve done for other organizations and businesses, are there any themes, are there, you know any general trends when it comes to financial wellness?

 

(John Thompson)

Well, a couple of things I might point out. We have been studying financial health as a concept for about seven years now and watching trends change in the country, and so, I mean, the country, and regions, and parts of it our economy of gone through massive changes in those seven years, but at the time, one of the things that we really started to learn is that under the veneer of what looked like a really healthy economy, you know, nice macroeconomic indicators, people were really struggling and, you know, it’s just hard to see through the averages sometimes, and this is part of why we built this. At the time, we can see that less than a third of people were financially healthy, and that was true in a lot of ways, regardless of income, which a lot of ways we think, okay, If I just make a lot of money, then I’m going to be financially healthy, not true. It’s not even the top 10 most predictive indicators of financial health. It’s important that we have a good income, a predictable income, a stable income, but not the only thing that matters, and you know, so I think that that sort of disconnect from what the quote unquote economy feels like to how financial health is, that’s something that is really important. Through that process I think a couple of other trends we really noticed how critical it is to be saving with a plan, not just haphazardly or randomly, because one of the most important indicators, even if you’re not making a lot of money or don’t have a lot left, just be intentional about that. Saving up, see that stuff, what Altra talks about suspect a lot of financial institution talk about that, it’s a central component of financial health and I think maybe one other one other trend that I’ve noticed a lot through this research, is that most people when they are thinking, about the long-term, they’re actually thinking about the short-term, or they’re thinking about soon, or not too far away and it’s really important to kind of have these different distinctions about what’s happening today, what’s going to happen next year, what’s going to five years from now, and orient the, you know, the decisions you make around that.

 

(Tony Beyer)

That’s great advice, and again, we’re speaking with John Thompson he is the president of Attune, it’s a company helps businesses and organizations measure financial wellness, and John, you just said even those that are making high incomes, they can still have money problems, so, just throwing more money at a problem doesn’t always make that problem go away. What are some general tips or what are some things that you recommend, even little steps, that can help people improve their financial wellness?

 

(John Thompson)

The things that we found, just an interesting example, from our research, about a third of House of the financially healthy households that we studied, that we were we were able to diagnose and discover, made less than $60,000 a year at a household level, and in lots of cities in this country, that is just not a lot of money, that’s really tough to manage. But they have set up good, solid day-to-day systems where they have visibility and control about the things that they’re spending their money on. And, you know, actually, I think that really in a lot of ways is at the core, that’s what so many of the tools, that Altra has built others have built that, give us sort of crisp, clean visibility into what’s happening this paycheck, next month, next quarter, in really making sure that we’re ahead of those kinds of things. So, like in a lot of ways that that dealing with the spikes and dips in income and spikes, and dips and expenses that come throughout the year, just get out in front of those. Don’t let yourself get caught scrambling. And then the second tip that I really suggest is even if times are thin, or margins are slim, just the basic action of saving with the plan, even if it’s a little bit, five, ten fifteen, twenty dollars.

Get that process going for everybody in your in your household that is making money. If your children are working, your siblings are working, like everybody’s got to have that particular discipline and contribute to their own part. I think the other thing that I would really suggest is one of the hardest things to do when you’re in a tight spot is to take a step back and build a plan that thinks longer term. So, when I say longer term at least five years out: where are we headed, what are the things that That I can do to connect what I’m doing today, next month, with that outcome, I seek? Because if you don’t plan for it, everything’s going to have to go right for it to feel better, and that’s not really the way we need to be with money.

­­­­­­­­­­­

(Tony Beyer)

In this episode of the Best Life Podcast we spoke with Lori Horstman who is the VP of Member Experience at Altra Federal Credit Union…we were also joined by our VP of Marketing Cheryl Dutton…and Zooming into the video chat to be on the podcast was John Thompson who is the President of Attune, the company Altra partnered with to make the Best Life Financial Wellness Quiz which you can find on our website at altra.org

Well, that’s going to do it for this episode of the Best Life Podcast presented by Altra Federal Credit Union. We appreciate you taking a moment to learn how you can live your best life. If you have a question or a topic you’d like us to cover, shoot me an email at: [email protected] and who knows, it may even make it into a future episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Best Life Podcast pretty much wherever you get your podcasts or find it on our website at altra.org. Thanks again, be well, and we’ll talk to you again soon.