MARKETech: Snigglezoo Brings Financial Education to the Youth Market
By John San Filippo
MARKETech is an ongoing article series that explores the technologies credit union marketers use to engage members and drive growth. To celebrate April as Financial Literacy Month, Finopotamus spoke with F&A Federal Credit Union’s Chief Administrative Officer Michelle Swauger about the credit union’s relationship with Snigglezoo, a company that provides credit unions with financial literacy tools for the youth market. F&A FCU is a $2.2 billion, 47,000-member credit union headquartered in Monterey Park, Calif.
“Our relationship with Snigglezoo predates me,” Swauger told Finopotamus. “I've been here for three and a half years and when I got here, the credit union had already developed a relationship with Snigglezoo and was promoting the Money Mammals product.” Money Mammals is a financial literacy program for the early youth market that is delivered primarily through F&A FCU’s Monterey Park and Whittier branches.
“Money Mammals uses things like coloring books and activity books to help young people learn financial awareness,” said Swauger. “It starts very early – as soon as soon as kids can start to read, say at five or six years old.”
As children get older, their ability to use and understand technology of course increases. To accommodate these older children, F&A FCU recently deployed two other Snigglezoo products called ADOLESCENT$ and The Art of Allowance Project. These tools provide “financial education for young people into their teenage years and early adulthood,” noted Swauger. Although they offer some hard-copy components, most of the content is delivered online. “There are games, there are puzzles, there are all kinds of really neat things that young people can participate in online.”
According to Swauger, the credit union uses a provider called Enrich for its adult financial education component. She said the credit union is working on integrating the Snigglezoo and Enrich products so that the credit union can “encompass the full life cycle” of members’ financial education needs.
Swauger said that Financial Literacy Month represents the perfect opportunity to promote the credit union’s various financial literacy programs. “For Financial Literacy Month, we’re promoting these programs through mostly digital channels, so emails, our website, statement ads, things of that nature,” she said. “We also have video content in our branches. We’re encouraging our members, regardless of their age, to take advantage of our financial education tools.”
Financial Literacy month activities will also employ in-branch promotions that include things like cookies and balloons. Swauger said that post-COVID, the credit union’s two branches are quite active. She noted that of the credit union’s 47,000 members, approximately 25,000 use mobile and online banking. “The rest of them are kind of old school,” she said “They come to our branches and they call us on the phone.”
Making members aware of these programs is one thing; engaging children and enabling them to get the most out of the programs is another. Swauger said that Snigglezoo has been very helpful in this respect. “Snigglezoo has provided a number of webinars for parents to learn more about early childhood education when it comes to finances and how to engage their kids,” she noted. She added that although there’s a big push for Financial Literacy Month, promoting these programs is a year-round activity for F&A FCU.
The credit union also offers actual financial products that correspond to the content. “We have a really great product,” said Swauger. “It's a youth savings account with a nice dividend of 6%. When we promote that, we do talk about utilizing our financial education tools.” She said the credit union has received very positive feedback from members on both the savings account and the Snigglezoo content. She added that she always sees a spike in usage that corresponds to the credit union’s various promotions.
Part of the Big Plan
Swauger told Finopotamus that financial wellness is an intentional part of the credit union’s strategic plan. She added that the credit union is in the middle of a three-year journey to enhance its financial wellness offering.
“We are in year two right now,” she explained. “Year one was finding a better financial education tool [for adults], which is why we engaged with Enrich and are working on integrating that with Snigglezoo. Year two is where we are right now. We're in the process of getting a handful of people certified as on-site financial coaches. Then next year, we'll deploy those financial coaches out into the field.”
Swauger said that member service reps are the first employees being trained as financial coaches. Next will be the credit union’s member development reps. “Those are the folks who are out in the field,” she said. “We call them our third branch.”
“We've done a lot of research to see what other credit unions are doing around financial wellness,” said Swauger. “We've discovered that many of our colleagues put static information on their website. That makes financial education something that members have to seek out. We're really trying to change that model and bring it top of mind for our members.”