The average age of a credit union member is 47. So it stands to reason the industry has a love affair with those of a younger demographic. If only they would talk about it!
Truth be told, a day cannot go by without seeing at least one discussion of Millenials and credit unions. Whether it be embracing technological solutions or offering a streamlined approach to lending, everyone has the answer to connecting with this essential generation.
There were challenges, however. Millenials don’t buy homes (mortgages), they don’t use credit cards, avoid owning cars (auto loans), and have no intention of changing. Like the disappearance of Tamagotchi pets, the needs of a generation had changed. Face it, it’s hopeless to even bother being in the banking industry anymore. We’ll be lucky if we can hold some of their meager savings.
Except all of this turned out to be false. When the average Millenial left school, they walked into a global recession, high unemployment, a banking sector in disarray, Wall Street in free-fall, and continuous threats of government shutdowns. Not an encouraging environment to make a stand!
So, they waited. Putting off moving out and getting new wheels for a solid career path, you can almost call them the Hesitant generation. Sure, adoption of technology, in every form, was rapid, but they also were the first to grow up with the Internet. It was a given they would be comfortable amongst cyberspace. The real world? Not so much.
Until things improved. Like now. Credit is more available and companies are hiring. Growing incomes situated them in up-and-coming urban centers. Big cities, sure, but also the smaller metro areas (like our own award-winning Fort Lauderdale) are experiencing dramatic influxes of young professionals. “Yeah, but in the city, they don’t drive, and they rent condos, so nothing changed.” Except not.
Millenials have grown into the second largest car buying group, behind their parents, the Boomers. You were right, they want the technology, and cool for these people represents efficient and modern. Out of reach of most buyers, the Tesla Model S still stands as the pinnacle of “cool”. No wonder other carmakers are pushing their own plug-ins, electric, and other forward-looking models.
They’re also buying homes. Renting was a necessary evil, and also helpful for a rapidly-shifting work environment. Now, denizens of the Millenial generation are able to “settle down” just a bit, and that comes with buying property.
Credit card usage is down, that’s accurate, but debit cards are embraced wholly. I see this as a financial literacy issue more than anything, which credit unions are ideally suited to address. Also mentioned in a recent post was the activities of CU Student Choice, helping CUs become financiers of student loans.
So this Millenials group…where do credit unions fit? Fund student loans, help them get started with debit cards, for a start. Be there for their new car loans, then help through the first mortgage. By providing time-honored service, coupled with the offerings people today expect (mobile banking, remote check deposit, online loan application, and compatibility with the latest must-haves), any credit union would be setting themselves up for a generation of success!
Sources: http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sns-wp-blm-news-bc-autos-millennials25-20150425-story.html, http://www.cuinsight.com/make-new-friends-reaching-the-younger-demographic.html
Image credit: https://bluesyemre.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/generation-x-y-z.jpg