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The Virtual Millennial Banker: How Credit Unions Can Win

Providing payments transaction tools in a format millennials crave will make your credit union a top candidate for these “virtual” bankers.

Millennials are reaching financial maturity and seeking a full range of financial services. Almost all of them (94%, according to Harris Interactive, 2013) actively use online banking, and for 42%, online is their only kind of banking (First Data Corporation, 2015).

These users value the ease and convenience of online payments and other transactions over relationships, and they’re comfortable doing their own virtual banking. And soon, they will make up 50% of the American workforce, so their decisions hold a good-sized piece of the future for financial institutions.

Can credit unions meet the demands of this mobile generation and get them to bridge the transactional-relationship gap, even though they may never set foot in a branch?

Speaking as a millennial myself as well as a credit union advocate and a participant in Bluepoint Solutions’ continuous research into the preferences of tomorrow’s members I believe they can. Credit unions that take the time to understand the mindset of this newly minted generation of online members may be ideally positioned to compete successfully for their business.

Here are my three actionable recommendations for credit union executives.

First, offer a substantial baseline menu of online services. Six millennial-approved, absolute must-have features come into play when millennials choose a primary financial institution:

  1. Payment solutions, such as online and mobile bill pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and prepaid cards, are of primary importance
  2. Mobile check deposits are fast becoming a universal requirement
  3. Mobile balance checks and transfers between accounts
  4. Mobile ATM and branch locators, with map links
  5. Deposit accounts with yields equal to or higher than online-only banks
  6. Online account creation and management

Second, not every credit union can offer every wish-list feature (free nationwide ATM access, mobile loan applications and mobile appointment setting), but every credit union can leverage its ability to deliver personalized service. We millennials do value relationships, even if we don’t give them first priority. You can build on that, because stellar service is your priority. However, there are two important stipulations you need to understand:

  • Millennials want you to come to them. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, and Pinterest have become daily norms (bordering on addictions). If you want to connect more deeply with us, these platforms are the way to do it. And if you use social media, make it a consistent, ongoing commitment, not something to think about every now and then.
  • Millennials actively avoid promotional, product-heavy approaches. Keep your blogs, posts and shares engaging and service-oriented, and big banks won’t stand a chance competing with you.

Finally, play to your unique strength by showing millennials your community service chops. This is one area where credit unions truly outshine big banks on all levels.

Millennials are inspired to support charities, non-profits, and movements for social betterment, and want those they do business with to be similarly socially conscious. Showcasing (through social media channels) how your credit union contributes to the community makes a difference. You’ll earn a level of trust that is rarely awarded to financial providers.

Credit unions that can offer a thoughtfully designed set of digital services and up their relationship-building and community focus will win the attention and loyalty of the coveted millennial membership that will be reaching financial maturity through the next decade.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
September 14, 2015

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