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Tips from Mich.s Financial Counseling Best Practices guide
LANSING, Mich. (11/23/11)--Michigan credit union financial counselors have shared their best practices and financial counseling program tips in a guide called Financial Counseling Best Practices that is available on the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) website.

The guide was compiled by a working group of credit union financial counselors who are members of the MCUL & Affiliates' Financial Education Council. The best practices aim to assist credit unions in forming or improving a formal or informal financial counseling program.

The guide includes program details and the experiences of several Michigan credit unions. The information is geared to credit unions hoping to start a financial counseling program or those wanting to supplement their existing program.

The guide includes:

  • Best practices to establish a financial counseling program;
  • Best practices for training;
  • Best counseling practices for sessions;
  • Reporting results;
  • Other educational opportunities;
  • Advertising; and
  • Credit union financial counseling program examples.   


To determine the need for establishing a financial counseling program, a credit union should talk to its lending department--loan interviewers, underwriters, collection and member-service staff--and survey its members, MCUL said.

Once a need has been identified, a credit union should outline a strategic plan or expected outcome for its budget counseling program. The plan should include statistics on current delinquency, results from other credit unions of similar size and situation, and the desired outcome. A chart of projected savings as result of the program may be added to the plan, the league said.

The biggest challenge to the program for a credit union is identifying the right person to be a budget counselor. Financial counselor roles include advising, instructing and motivating. Counselors must have a clear understanding of money management and the elements of creditworthiness, the guide said.

Consumers need financial guidance but tight credit union budgets often restrict the number of staff able to train. MCUL offers a guided self-study financial counseling training program, and the Credit Union National Association offers a Certified Financial Counselor School. Use the link.

To see the MCUL Financial Counseling Best Practices guide, use the link.
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