Fad or Function?

With differing opinions on the role technology should play in a financial institution’s Gen Y outreach, the education element should not be ignored.


GonzoBanker recently published an extensive article about Gen Y marketing that included a call to action from Cornerstone Advisors' Ted Thames. The article itself is interesting, but even more intriguing is the responses from Thame’s readers regarding technology solutions for Gen Y. Among comments of support, other readers talked about tech solutions as a large part of banking for all demographics, not just Gen Y, and said the convenience of technology cannot replace the quality of old-fashioned customer service. Both comments are correct, but there’s more to the story.

The article highlights what the majority of Gen Y wants from their financial institutions — information. And the way Gen Y acquires that information hinges on technology. Although some segments of Gen Y are drawn to the latest financial app or mobile solution simply because of the “wow” factor, technology IS our primary method of learning and adapting to new concepts, practices, and ideas.

Unlike other demographics, Gen Y is a generation raised on technology, from “Reader Rabbit” and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” on our school computers to PFM tools on our phones.

Even with their downsides — such as cost or lack of face-to-face customer service — technological resources and solutions will continue to determine how Gen Y selects a primary financial institution. It’s how we learn and how we better ourselves. And well, if it’s really, really cool — that doesn’t hurt either.


Sept. 2, 2010


  • Well said... various forms of tech are great delivery methods for CUs and part of what young adults evaluate when choosing a PFI. Oh, and we can't forget The Oregon Trail in addition to Reader Rabbit and Carmen!
    Josh Jones
  • Great post! Your insights are spot on with regard to the realities that face credit unions and what they need to understand about Gen Y and technology.

    The question I think we need to explore further is whether face-to-face interaction is really still as important as we once thought it was. As a boomer, I find much of the face-to-face interaction I have less than satisfying. It almost always takes longer than necessary and it is seldom convenient.

    Perhaps the issue is not face-to-face versus technology, but rather leveraging technology to create personalized interactions that provide quick, on point answers to member questions. Using audio, video, blog posts, FAQs, and so forth can go a long way and can be more effective than face-to-face if done well.
    Michael Hudson
  • Good discussion. Boiled down, it seems to point to the importance of member service and support. Regardless of age, consumers seek support via the channel they prefer. Member service needs to be accurate, consistent, and timely across all channels, including self-service.

    Credit unions should seek tools that allow staff to deliver the highest quality member care, as that is one of the key differentiators between financial institutions. And in the spirit of people-helping-people, extending educational and informational personal finance articles on credit union web sites is key to retaining member loyalty not just of Gen Y but across all generations.

    For an interesting look at online consumer expectations, check out the FuzeDigital-sponsored survey results here: http://www.content.fuze.com/fuzecontent/consumer/kbdetail.asp?kbid=1173
    Jean Van Court