BATON ROUGE, La. (12/19/12)--Pelican State CU has become the nation's first financial institution to certify its entire staff in the Community Development Certified Financial Counseling (CDCFC) training program.
The CDCFC training, testing and certification helps credit unions better serve their members who are experiencing financial challenges.
The program was created by CU Strategic Planning, a community development financial institutions grant writing and marketing consulting company.
The staff of the Baton Rouge, La. credit union completed the certification Nov. 30.
CDCFC's training focuses on lending to working-class consumers who need loans to establish better financial footing, according to Chuck Cockburn, CU Strategic Planning president/CEO. It works by allowing credit unions to "invent" their own qualified borrowers by coaching members to become credit worthy.
Another program offered credit unions is the Credit Union National Association's Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program. The program includes two parts of four learning modules each. When participants successfully complete the proctored exams for both parts (eight total modules), they become Credit Union Certified Financial Counselors, and can assist their members in reaching their financial goals.
"Since we have 10 branches located throughout Louisiana, the fact that our entire staff could be certified online was really appealing to us," said Jeffrey Conrad, CEO of the $200 million asset credit union.
The advantage Pelican State gains from having each employee certified is that it can clearly determine which members are in need of in-depth credit counseling, Conrad said. Credit union employees can identify the patterns and warning signs of a member who is in financial trouble and refer them to one of its full-time credit counselors for further assistance, which also includes loan officers or collectors for workout loans, debt consolidation or budgeting assistance.
The credit union has also developed its own community resource database for members who need non-financial help. Pelican can refer members to the proper organizations.
"For the sake of our members, we wanted to ensure that no matter which method they use to contact us, or which employee assists them with their needs, they were receiving information and guidance from someone with a strong financial education knowledge base," explained Conrad. "We are empowering all employees to be effective ambassadors for our credit union and project the knowledge they have gained through this certification."