millennial credit union members
By Brad Powell

There are 83 million millennials in the United States.

That, of course, is why so many businesses are courting these 15- to 33-year-olds. And why so many blog posts are written about them.

I have been thinking about millennials as potential credit union members a bit lately (I’m hardly the only one). Perhaps it’s because, in a survey Axiaware recently conducted for credit union decision-makers, we asked respondents to rate the importance and urgency of adding millennials as members. (Read about the survey results here.)

In the meantime, I wanted to share three tips published recently on attracting millennials that I thought made a lot of sense:

1. Don’t Change Your Name

Companies across many industries have rebranded in recent years, dropping a traditional-sounding name for a made-up word that (presumably) has been focus-grouped and market-tested.

The idea is a fresh, hip-sounding name will attract younger customers.

I was pleased to read Olivier Raoust’s post on CU Insight that urged caution before making a name change.

He even included the example of the credit union known as JDCU in Massachussets. Its original name – from its founding in 1912 – was Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. But recently, the credit union’s leaders had decided using an acronym was catchier.

Raoust’s company advised JDCU to go back to Jeanne D’Arc. And they did.

“That name represents stability and staying power to a younger generation that has grown distrustful of Wall Street and Big Business,” Raoust wrote. “The name also sends the message: this is not a financial institution that will close shop tomorrow.

“As credit union members and the community embraced the reclaimed name, average age of members dropped. The average age of new members is now 34. The old-new name spells success.”

2. Make It Easy

If you have read other blog posts at, you may have run across this advice before. Younger members use their mobile devices for nearly everything, and they expect the transactions to be smooth and painless.

At a conference in October, National Credit Union Administration Board Chairman Debbie Matz made the same point ─ credit unions need to be up to speed when it comes to member-facing technology:

“It’s essential for young people to find what they’re looking for in one click, and do everything they need to do without being inconvenienced,” Matz said. “If they find glitches in a credit union’s technology, they’re likely to become frustrated and quickly move on to other institutions whose apps are higher rated.”

(Related: Mobile Auto Lending: Credit Unions’ Next Big Opportunity?)

3. Own Your Online Presence

Millennials do their research. In Accenture’s annual consumer banking survey, 81 percent said they look online for prices and reviews before making a decision.

So when a potential young member finds you online, you need to make sure they understand the value proposition your credit union offers. And you need to manage your online reputation.

If you don’t, potential young members (and existing ones) are as good as gone.

“Respondents in the age group cited high fees and dissatisfaction with rewards programs as motivations for changing banks,” wrote Ali Donaldson in a November Bloomberg Business piece.

Donaldson quoted Cam Fine, president and chief executive officer of Independent Community Bankers of America, too:

“Millennials in particular crave more high-touch,” Fine said. “They want to make sure people are paying attention” to their needs.



Compliance and Your Credit Union

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