Last month I was invited (along with about 20 other military and financial bloggers) by USAA to a military and financial blogger event in San Antonio. (As a full disclosure, the event was sponsored and paid for by USAA, and took place at their headquarters building in San Antonio). That said, USAA did not require that we write about the event, nor give us any other compensation aside from travel and lodging. Their goal was to share the USAA experience with military and financial bloggers and share what USAA is doing for their members and the military community.
In short, I was impressed. I have been a USAA member for about 10 years now, and seeing their operations in person, and more importantly, seeing their dedication to their members and the military community, left a big impression on me. And I want to share some of that with you today, as well as share some of the initiatives USAA is working on for their members and the general military community.
First a little more information about USAA
If you aren’t familiar with USAA, they are a large member owned financial institution which caters to the military community. They offer banking, investing, and other financial products, homeowner’s, auto and life insurance, and other related products. Anyone can use USAA’s banking and investment products (and a few other products and services), but you need to be a member to use their insurance products – membership eligibility is limited to current and prior military members, spouses of members, adult children of a USAA member, and a few other limited situations. Learn more about USAA eligibility.
What does USAA membership mean? It’s important to understand that USAA is member owned, which means if you are a USAA member, you are a part owner of USAA’s assets. Wikipedia has a great explanation of how this works (see the “Legal Structure” section for more information). So USAA’s number one goal as an entity isn’t to hoard profits like a normal corporation – it’s to best serve their members. That’s why USAA puts so much time, money, and effort into creating a great user experience, and in creating innovative products and services for their members (more on these in a moment). It’s also the reason why many USAA members receive a refund check from USAA in some years as their Subscriber Savings Account – this is USAA redistributing some of their profits to its membership.
Back to the USAA Blogger Conference
Sharing a little about USAA membership is important because you have to understand their relationship with their members to understand why USAA puts so much time, effort, and money back into their company. Everything they do is to increase the value to their members – from user experience to innovative products and services.
Learning about these initiatives was the purpose behind the USAA Blogger Event. It was also great to meet many of the people on USAA’s marketing and social media teams, as well as meet a lot of other military and financial bloggers. Together, they are all doing a lot for the military community and it is great to continue serving the military community in that capacity.
USAA has an amazing innovation section where they come up with unique ways to create products and services to better serve their members. One example of this is the Deposit @Home feature, which gives members the opportunity to remotely deposit checks by scanning them and uploading the image to their USAA account, or by doing the same thing with their smartphone or iPad. This is an incredibly useful function, specially when you are geographically separated from the nearest USAA branch (Several banks are now offering similar products, but USAA was the first to offer it). USAA Auto Circle and USAA Home Circle are also recent initiatives they created for their members.
USAA is also working on a variety of other services for their members, some of which they asked that we don’t share publicly, as they aren’t yet ready for launch (there were also some things they wouldn’t share with us as they are considered “Top Secret” – kinda reminds me of my days in the military!).
The bottom line is that everything USAA is doing is for the benefit of the military community and their members. And I can’t begin to say how much that means to me from both a member’s perspective, and as a military veteran.
September 11th Memorial
The USAA Blogger Event also coincided with a September 11th Memorial event which was held in the USAA HQ building. Here an excerpt from the presentation:
Here are more thoughts from participants of the USAA Blogger Event:
- Bloggers at the USAA Blogger Event.
- More news from the USAA Blogger Event.
- USAA’s underwear secrets.
- Answers to USAA’s questions.
- USAA Patriot Day.
Jeff Rose from Good Financial cents and Soldier of Finance shares his thoughts in a video:
Overall, I was impressed as always with USAA. Meeting the other military and financial bloggers and learning more about how they are helping the military community was also a wonderful experience.