Mar 23 2012

Investor Education for Credit Union Employees: Survey Results for Wisconsin


Ever since “promoting thrift” was codified as a core value in the Federal Credit Union Act of 1934, credit unions have been interested in ways to help members manage their money well. That task can extend from offering good and basic financial products all the way to offering complex financial advice and in-depth financial education.

In 2009 and 2010 researchers at the University of Wisconsin– Madison, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Credit Union League, administered a series of surveys followed by financial education modules to hundreds of employees at Wisconsin credit unions. The project is part of a larger experiment to see just how effective online education can be in improving financial knowledge and changing financial behavior. But not all financial education is created equal.

The researchers wanted to know whether a nine-part online education series—covering topics such as “Basics of Investing,” “Investing in Mutual Funds,” and “Working with Financial Advisors”—would lead to both sustained knowledge and changed behavior. Fifty‑four percent of respondents reported some college, and the typical employee had between 5 and 10 years of employment experience. Most were married, and, interestingly, only 17% were male, which reflects the high proportion of women employed by credit unions. And did the online education change knowledge and behavior? It did.

Report Number 263