Why Credit Unions Are The Future of Employee Financial Wellbeing

Consumers lost confidence in mainstream banks as a result of the recession. Mortgage foreclosures, PPI, tighter lending criteria and rejected loan applications crippled millions of families and businesses when they most needed help.

At the same time, governments in the UK, US and Europe were bailing out banks to the tune of several hundred billion pounds. Financial executives were walking away with six and seven-figure golden parachutes when customers were having homes repossessed. It wasn’t a good time to be in the financial services sector, and even now, we are living with the repercussions of that economic collapse. Media stories of massive RBS losses still stir up old resentments.

Banks have more competition. Customers expect more from financial providers; they expect them to make smarter, more ethical, choices. Credit Unions, now numbering 500 across the country, with over 1.6 million members, are a group of competitors that have benefited from a public unwilling to put all of their money and trust back into banks. Credit unions are more popular in other countries, with over 40% of US consumers a member of a credit union. In the UK, that figure is around 4%.

Most credit unions are considerably smaller than banks. It makes it difficult for them to make potential members aware of them. Employers could step in with a solution that helps staff and reduces stress-related absence and staff turnover, with support from credit unions.

How Credit Unions Can Solve Absence & Turnover Problems

Debt and unexpected bills reduce employee performance. Stress increases staff absence, even turnover when they are worried enough about money to look for another job.

With average household debt around £13,000, we can’t assume that banks will lend more money if an employee wants to consolidate debts, or they have an unexpected bill, and we can’t even assume that those on higher salaries save money since savings rates are so low in the UK. In case of an emergency, people are as likely to turn to payday lenders and credit cards than savings.

Credit unions have a better solution, which employers can help their staff find, through employee-benefit loans and savings accounts. Here are a few reasons why credit unions can provide an advantage for employer’s looking to reduce stress, absence and turnover amongst staff, whilst also improving long-term financial wellbeing.

1. Loans based on years in service

Credit union members can only get loans when they have been a member for a certain amount of time. When it comes to employee-benefit loans through FairQuid, credit unions need a minimum of one year’s service with an employer. This way, you can reward service with the option of loans and savings accounts from an ethical financial provider they would not normally be able to access straight away.

2. Salary and employment history influence the loan amount

Mainstream lenders don’t take this as much into consideration as credit unions that offer employee-benefit loans. The longer you work for a company, and the more you earn, the more you can borrow; generally up to £7,500.

Banks put far more weight on credit scores, which means any bad history will increase your interest rates or make an employee ineligible for a loan, even if they can afford it. That doesn’t help people who want to consolidate debts or pay for an unexpected bill, which in turn means they could take time off due to stress, suffer low productivity (financial stress can cause your IQ to drop 13 points) or start looking for another job. Consequently, productivity suffers, all as a result of something outside your immediate control.

3. Manageable affordability and savings

Anyone who gets a loan from a credit union becomes a member, which means they also need to start saving – as a result of automatic enrolment in the Membership. Since both the loan and saving amount are taken at source – the same as Tax & NI – the employee doesn’t see the money come into their account and then have to pay it out.

In effect, they don’t miss what they don’t have. This way, they adjust to the slightly lower Net salary, whilst knowing that a rainy day fund is building up and their debts are decreasing.

4. Hassle free loan applications

Employee-benefit loans also make applying for a loan far easier, since the bulk of the paperwork they need is verified through the employer. Credit unions can process applications faster. Staff who are stressing about money can have a solution that eliminates these worries quickly so that everyone can get back to work.

Need a solution that makes a real difference to your staff, without costing your organisation a penny? Debt is everywhere, but it doesn’t have to drag down your productivity. Our employee benefit loans and savings accounts, provided by ethical credit unions, are the answer. Find out more: