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A Direct Line Blog

Designing Personalized Benefits Packages as Unique as Your Executives

March 6, 2024 7:30 am

By Danielle Scodellaro, Executive Benefits Specialist with CUNA Mutual Group Executive Benefit Solutions

Forever people-centered, the credit union industry is no stranger to strategic empathy. We dedicate vast resources to getting inside the minds of members so we can serve them better. Imagine the possibilities if we committed the same energy to understanding credit union leaders. After all, exceeding the expectations of the industry’s executives could have dramatic impact on everything from leadership continuity to overall growth of the movement.

Just like members, every credit union leader is unique. Factors such as former workplace experiences, ambitions for the future and cultural influences shape their perceptions and affect personal goal setting. Creating a rewarding executive experience, therefore, must be highly personalized with benefits as distinct as the individual.

To be sure, there are staples of job satisfaction that credit unions can confidently apply to their executive benefits strategy. However, as the C-suite becomes more diverse, it’s appropriate to challenge the status quo. Particularly as more women take over leadership roles in the credit union industry, HR and board decision makers may want to reconsider some of the old-standby incentives.

Taking the temperature of your leaders in the following three areas may help you design an executive benefits package that resonates with the top talent your credit union needs for a strong future.

Are the credit union’s retirement contributions attractive enough?

Because mothers are often the primary caregiver for children and aging parents, female CU executives may come to a leadership position with fewer earning years under their belts. Their 35 biggest-income years, therefore, may not be as high as their male counterparts, reducing their expected Social Security payout.

Similarly, African American and Latino employees in the private sector have historically had much less access to workplace retirement plans. Reduced or no contributions from employers early in a career follows a professional for years and may continue to impact balances even as they move into the C-suite.

As a result, diverse and financially savvy leaders who have calculated what they’ll need for thriving sunset years may insist on greater-than-expected contributions from their credit union employer.

Are you confident in your personal financial plan?

Speaking of the financially savvy, not all executives—even in the financial services space—have carved out the time necessary to build and maintain an optimal personal financial plan. This may be a circumstance of a jam-packed schedule or a high-pressure work environment. However, it may also be due to embarrassment or shame.

Credit unions should proactively connect their executives with financial coaches who have experience working with people of similar backgrounds and cultures as that of their top talent.

Do you feel understood?

Credit union executives run the gamut when it comes to risk tolerance. The industry stereotype has credit union CEOs and boards on the conservative end of the scale. In many ways, this makes them a great match for most credit unions (and the regulators they answer to!). Yet, the tendency to be careful can backfire when it comes to aggressively planning for a personal financial future. Just the same, there are many leaders across the movement who live comfortably in the calculated-risks area of the spectrum.

Understanding how a particular individual weighs the risk and reward of different investment, insurance and retirement strategies will be a key element to crafting an attractive benefits package. It may also open the door for palatable discussions around funding solutions for such packages.

Designing an executive experience with intention calls for intimate understanding of an individual’s unique values, ambitions and goals. Credit unions that take the time to explore and honor this individuality may stand the greatest chance of satisfying the movement’s top performers.

In Montana, your Executive Benefits Specialist is Greg Smyth, who can be reached at 800.356.2644, Ext. 665.5409 or

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