Justin Steitz is Chief Operating Officer of Copper Financial, one of the only credit union-owned broker-dealer RIA firms working directly with other credit unions and their advisors.
Russ Alan Prince: Tell me about Copper Financial.
Justin Steitz: Copper Financial—Copper—is a credit union-owned, FINRA-registered broker-dealer and SEC-registered RIA working with credit unions to provide wealth management for all credit union members. We are wholly owned by CommunityAmerica Credit Union, a $4.5 billion credit union serving 285,000 members.
Copper Financial has been in the wealth management space offering wealth management services to our members for more than 20 years. More recently, we branched out and started partnering with other credit unions to provide them with access to wealth management services they can offer their members.
We are continuing to build relationships with other credit unions to serve as many members as possible across the country. Copper Financial can provide wealth advisors with the services and tools to assist any credit union members’ wealth management needs. We will soon launch a digital trading platform for credit union members as well—think Betterment and Robinhood, but with everything available within your online banking platform.
Prince: What is the value of providing credit unions with wealth management services?
Steitz: Consumers today want to seamlessly access their investment portfolios as well as cutting-edge financial planning tools from within their banking apps. We have found in working with credit unions that their members are considered close to 90% highly engaged with their respective credit union if they utilize their wealth management offering, versus only 41% being highly engaged if they are not participating in the credit union’s wealth management offering.
Also, our research shows a member with a wealth management account within their credit union carries five times greater balances compared to a member without a wealth management account. These numbers how important it is for members to build deeper relationships with their credit unions to meet more of their needs, which is what we often refer to as “stickiness.”
Prince: How can credit unions better serve their members using innovative technology solutions?
Steitz: We believe the technology experience for our members starts with their online banking experience. Although credit unions will still have the need for brick-and-mortar branches, the branch of the future is a member’s personal mobile device, where they can access online banking.
The ability for members to see their wealth management balances front and center when they sign into their online banking platform is already table stakes for credit unions. Our customized wealth management portal can be embedded via single sign-on into any online banking platform to truly allow a member to obtain a 360-degree view of their credit union accounts as well as wealth management accounts opened through Copper Financial.
Prince: What role does Copper Financial play in improving the digital experience for credit union members?
Steitz: Before we at Copper Financial started our own wealth management firm, we utilized an outsourced partner’s technology platform to open wealth management accounts for our members. Eventually, and as part of starting our own wealth management firm, we realized technology plays a huge role for not only our members but also our wealth advisors working for us. As such, we built our own middle- and back-office platform to open, fund, trade, and manage all of our members’ wealth management accounts opened through us.
Our platform sources directly to our key wealth product platform via APIs, allowing for accounts to be opened in a matter of seconds once the information is passed along. Once the accounts are opened and funded we are then able to push this data into any online banking provider to give a member a 360-degree view of their accounts, balances, account statements, and tax documents.
Prince: Do you anticipate wealth management services becoming standardized in the credit union space? What opportunities would this present for credit unions, their members, and advisors?
Steitz: Wealth management services have been standardized now for several years via the model of a credit union outsourcing their services and doing business the way they always have. The opportunities for credit unions, their members, and advisors lie in the enhanced technology that we have built to serve all members.
Technology is allowing Copper Financial to partner with credit unions to work with members digitally, virtually, and/or via face-to-face with wealth advisors. This tiered approach allows credit unions to engage their members at any stage of their investing journey, enabling them to work with their credit unions through retirement and beyond.
RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.