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Financial education and wellness are big topics these days. Anyone reading this guide has likely heard statistics about how many people live paycheck to paycheck or how few people have $600 socked away for an emergency.
With ongoing talk of recession, high inflation, soaring consumer good costs, high interest rates, stagnant wages, and many high-profile reductions in force (mass layoffs), consumers are feeling the squeeze. What a time for student loan repayments to resume, right?
In this guide, we’ll try to accomplish the following:
- Define “financial education,” “financial literacy,” and “financial wellness”;
- Analyze trends pertaining to the above;
- Introduce fintechs—competitors and partners alike—that address financial education and wellness;
- Group fintechs according to whether they want to eat your lunch, sell you lunch, or eat lunch with you;
- Score fintechs by their impact on 4 key variables:
- Income statement
- Balance sheet
We will also provide some evaluation criteria that you can use when searching for your partner. The criteria—and the guide as a whole—are meant to serve as a starting point for your credit union’s search for a best-fit solution.
Finally, please note that our scores and grouping are estimations and are not ratings of quality or fit.
Definitions and Disambiguation
First, how do we define financial education and literacy?
We define financial literacy as the understanding and knowledge of various financial concepts, such as budgeting, investing, borrowing, saving, and the general workings of the financial system. Financial education is the process of training people to be financially literate.
In essence, financial literacy is about being informed on financial matters, knowing the difference between debit and credit, understanding how interest rates work, or learning what goes into their credit score.
For consumers, financial literacy is essential because it equips them with the tools and understanding necessary to make informed decisions about their money. Whether it’s budgeting basics, retirement savings strategy, understanding the implications of taking out a loan, or navigating the world of credit cards, being financially literate can lead to better financial outcomes and fewer costly mistakes.
Credit unions, as member-driven institutions, have a vested interest in ensuring their members are financially literate. When members understand their finances, they’re more likely to make prudent decisions, reducing the risk of default on loans or falling into debt traps. Additionally, by offering financial literacy programs, credit unions can position themselves as trusted advisors, deepening member relationships and loyalty.
Second, how do we define financial wellness?
Financial wellness goes a step beyond mere understanding; it’s about an individual’s overall financial health and well-being. This encompasses not just knowledge, but also the confidence and resilience to effectively manage one’s finances, live within one’s means, and prepare for future financial needs and emergencies. It’s about having the financial freedom to make choices that allow one to enjoy life, without undue financial stress or anxiety.
Furthermore, to be financially well is to be financially solvent—to have the means of affording one’s life.
For consumers, achieving financial wellness means peace of mind. It’s the comfort of knowing that bills can be paid on time, that there’s a safety net in case of unexpected expenses, and that future goals, be it buying a home or going on a vacation, are attainable. It’s not just about having money but managing it in a way that aligns with personal values and aspirations.
For credit unions, promoting financial wellness is a win-win. When members are financially healthy, they are more likely to utilize a range of financial products responsibly, from savings accounts to mortgages. By offering products and services that prioritize financial wellness, such as budgeting tools or counseling services, credit unions can help members achieve their financial goals while also building trust and long-term relationships. In a nutshell, when members thrive, so do credit unions.
Financial Education and Wellness Trends and Statistics
Credit unions are offering youth accounts.
There’s so much to dig into with youth accounts that we will soon create a guide specifically for them. We outlined a lot of the issues in this blog, but here are the highlights:
- The average age of a credit union member is 53;
- Roughly $84T will be passed from retirees to their families and charities over the next 20 years;
- Generation Alpha—kids born after 2010—will be applying for their first mortgages in the next 20 years.
Credit unions completely missed the boat with Millennials, many of whom are already in their 40s and in executive and senior management roles. Credit unions are somehow doing even worse with Gen Z, many of whom are entering management roles and buying cars and houses.
If credit unions want to exist in 20 years, they’ll need younger members. Right now, that means Gen Alpha, and the only way to get those members is by offering youth accounts and products and services designed specifically for children, teens, and families.
To be blunt, youth accounts are an existential necessity.
Financial illiteracy comes at a cost.
Surveys show that most Americans would prefer to invest with their primary financial institution. However, only 0.5% of members invest with their credit union. Most members invest outside of the credit union. They have 401ks and IRAs from employers. They have wealth managers and brokers. And, more commonly, they invest on their own, thanks to fintechs.
While large banks are doing their best to provide investment services to more of their members, they’re clearly in reaction mode, taking cues from leading fintech investment platforms (i.e. removing trading fees a la Robinhood).
Credit unions offer far fewer options and, unfortunately, lag behind banks. So, despite the demand for investment services, and despite a general stated preference to invest with their primary financial institution, credit unions haven’t given their members the option.
Financial wellness contributes to non-financial wellness.
In 2022, PWC’s Employee Survey found that 60% of consumers counted finances as their #1 stressor in life. That number goes down to 47% for people earning more than 6 figures, but that’s not as steep of a drop as you’d expect.
That same survey showed that financial stress had a negative effect on:
- Mental health
- Self esteem
- Physical health
- Relationships at home
Improving financial wellness improves overall wellness. And, while there’s no way to measure the ROI on improving member health, it’s an incredible opportunity for credit unions to make a difference for the members and their communities.
Financial Education and Wellness Evaluation Strategies
The number of fintechs offering financial education and wellness solutions is growing by the month. And it makes sense—there is a demonstrable consumer need for financial education and wellness products and, at the same time, a relative lack of established options for consumers in the marketplace.
Consumers typically prefer to centralize financial services, so credit unions have the opportunity to capitalize on their brand trust and giving members no reason to look elsewhere for competing services. If you’ve decided to offer financial education or wellness services at your credit union, the following questions and considerations may help you narrow down the field to find the best fit.
Content quality and relevance
Is the content accurate? Is it current? Does the material lead into products and services your credit union provides, or will it lead members elsewhere?
Useability and accessibility
Will the solution be available to most or all of your members? Can it be accessed through your app? Is it easy to find and use?
Analytics and reporting
Will you get detailed insight into member usage or behavior? Can you integrate the data into other products or your overall data analytics strategy?
Support and training
Does the fintech provide any assistance in launching the product? Do they have prebuilt marketing assets? Will they provide staff training or support?
Can the provider help members pay off debts? Can members use the service to pay down student loans, credit card debt, etc.?
Does the solution solve for an institutional goal? For example, will a youth account partner help you bring in younger members? Will a financial wellness app improve deposits?
Most fintechs fit into 3 categories:
- Those that want to steal your lunch. These are generally direct competitors or short-time partners that reduce your share of the member’s wallet.
- Those that want to sell you lunch. These fintechs will provide you and your members a service, and they’ll charge you the same whether it’s successful or not.
- Those that want to share lunch with you. Some fintech financial success is contingent on their product success, so they’re uniquely incentivized to ensure good outcomes for partnered credit unions.
Generally, CU 2.0 recommends looking into fintechs that want to share lunch (and avoiding those that want to steal your lunch), but there are good partners across the spectrum.
Financial Education and Wellness Fintech Ratings
CU 2.0’s rating methodology attempts to score fintechs based on the 4 most important factors for credit unions:
- Income statement: costs money, neutral, makes money
- Balance sheet: capital, NEV, risk
- Member impact: percentage of members affected, impact on financial wellness, ease of life/banking
- Employee impact: workflow improvements, integrations, satisfaction
We score each category above on a scale of 0 to 3. We give 1 point for each significant estimated positive impact on each subcategory.
For example, for Member Impact, if a solution affects only a small percentage of members, but it has a large effect on their financial wellness and is easy to access/use, we would score it a 2.
Our impact ratings don’t necessarily correlate to the quality of a given solution. Fintechs with higher potential impact scores aren’t automatically better, or a better fit, for your credit union and members.
The following fintechs are listed alphabetically. These ratings correspond only to the variables listed above. These aren’t rated or ranked by quality, nor are they recommendations—they’re meant only to serve as a starting point in your research to improve your credit union’s wealth management and investment services strategy.
Trusted solutions are highlighted with an asterisk—these are fintechs that CU 2.0 has vetted personally.
Financial Education and Wellness Services Providers
|Fintech||Description||Income Statement||Balance Sheet||Member Impact||Employee Impact||Type|
|Accelewage*||Accelewage is a SaaS provider for financial institutions that automates earned wage access (EWA) for employees of select employers.||Gain||0||2||2||Financial wellness|
|Array*||Array integrates consumer credit scores, education, and opportunities into credit union digital banking and marketing funnels.||Neutral||0||2||1||Financial wellness|
|Cambio||Cambio is an AI-powered credit recovery tool that helps members fix errors, settle debt, and remove bad debt.||Cost||0||2||2||Financial wellness|
|Changed||Changed rounds up spare change from transactions and uses it to pay down user debt (mortgage, student, auto, etc.) or increase savings.||Neutral||1||2||2||Financial wellness|
|Chimney*||Chimney allows credit unions to include beautiful, user-friendly financial calculators to help them better understand their financial picture.||Cost||1||2||1||Financial education|
|Enrich||Enrich offers customized, co-branded financial wellness programs and educational materials for employers and financial institutions.||Cost||0||3||2||Financial wellness and education|
|GoHenry||GoHenry offers a debit and financial literacy training for kids.||NA||NA||NA||NA||Youth accounts|
|Gravystack||Gravystack is a gamified digital financial education tool for kids and families.||NA||NA||NA||NA||Youth accounts|
|Greenlight*||Greenlight grows credit union reach with kids and teens with a robust youth banking experience, complete with extensive education and wellness tools.||Neutral||0||2||2||Youth accounts|
|GreenPath Financial Wellness||GreenPath Financial Wellness is a nonprofit financial wellness company and CUNA collaborator that offers personalized financial coaching for credit union members.||Cost||0||2||2||Financial education|
|Happy Money||Happy Money (formerly Payoff) partners with credit unions to provide eligible members with personal loans to consolidate credit card debt.||Gain||2||1||1||Financial wellness|
|Kiddie Kredit*||Kiddie Kredit is a mobile app designed to educate children on the credit system by completing chores. Kiddie Kredit’s platform works with credit unions to offer custom rewards, push notifications, and exclusive financial literacy content.||Cost||0||2||1||Financial education|
|LifeTidy*||LifeTidy stores all important life information in one place so users can spend more time living and less time administrating.||Cost||0||3||1||Financial wellness|
|MoneyEdu||MoneyEdu provides financial wellness and literacy education programs in partnership with credit unions nationwide.||Cost||0||2||1||Financial education|
|Money Mammals*||Money Mammals provides extensive financial education materials for children as well as youth accounts for tweens and teens.||Cost||0||2||1||Youth accounts|
|Nerdwallet||Nerdwallet is an online financial education resource that connects consumers with relevant financial institutions.||NA||NA||NA||NA||Financial education|
|Paperwork*||Paperwork empowers your members with money management tools and everything they need to achieve financial wellbeing.||Cost||0||2||1||Financial wellness|
|Personetics||Personetics empowers users with AI-powered self-driving finance tools that improve their financial wellness and ability to reach their financial goals.||Cost||0||2||1||Financial wellness|
|Plinqit||Plinqit partners with financial institutions to offer automated savings based on the user’s goals and financial picture.||Neutral||2||2||1||Financial wellness|
|SavvyMoney||SavvyMoney shows members their credit score and then suggests ways they can improve it—and opportunities to leverage it.||Neutral||0||2||1||Financial wellness|
|Zogo||Zogo’s award-winning suite of gamified financial education products allow financial institutions to educate and engage their community like never before.||Cost||0||1||1||Financial education|
Please note that these ratings are in their early stages and will be updated as we include more data, including ratings sourced from credit unions. The ratings are not definite—your credit union could see a different level of impact than listed in this guide.
Did we miss a fintech? Please let us know at [email protected]
Choosing the right partner will depend on your goals, budget, timeline, and other factors. The shop that works for the credit union down the street may not be the best fit for you.
For deeper discussion, analysis, and recommendations, CU 2.0 can help in the following ways:
- Join our Fintech Call Program. In quarterly 30-minute calls, we’ll discuss in depth new and innovative fintech solutions that fit your credit union’s needs. We can also help you review other solutions you’re looking at.
- Ask for an introduction. We maintain relationships with most or all of the vendors rated above. We would be happy to give you a warm introduction to any we can on the list.
- Book a consultation. CU 2.0 offers technology and fintech consultations and reviews to identify best-fit solutions for your credit union.