The Fed's recent announcement that interest rates will be kept near zero for an additional eighteen months - into late 2014 - isn't particularly surprising. As the NYT's writes, "long-term rates already are at record low levels and, like pushing on a spring, the going gets harder as it nears the floor." What may be surprising is the effect this is likely to have on the millions of Millennials, who, up to this point in their young lives, have not been well-known for long term planning and investment.

Every class of consumer can rest assured that cheap loans will remain for some time to come. But for many Millennials this environment may be particularly motivating.

Take your average, newly married 27-year-old who has always dreamed of owning a home. He may not be ready yet - perhaps with a few ducks to get in a row before he's ready for a mortgage. But his career is launched by now and he's begun to earn enough to do something Millennials are hardly known for - plan ahead. Knowing that rates will remain low for at least a year or two, he may already be preparing to buy a home.

Millennials are often distrustful of large, impersonal institutions, preferring the "locavore" lifestyle - which, when extended to financial services, should lead to a preference for smaller, locally-based institutions who provide a greater level of customer service. Millennials are a natural fit for community banks and credit unions.

However, Millennials are equally notorious for expecting to conduct their business seamlessly and effortlessly online. This demographic, more than any other, uses technology and the internet across almost every aspect of life. They worked online at school, searched for a job online, ordered dinner last night online, spend leisure time online and record numbers of them find a mate online. It is likely they will bank online, too. And that includes their first mortgage.

Small institutions must have seamless online mortgage application processes and the user experience must be at least on par with those provided by the major institutions - If they hope to capture this emerging market. Otherwise, at the first sign of a poorly designed website, a lack of online capability or a request for a fax, the Millennial, despite a natural preference for the local small institution, will balk.

Millennials simply won't accept anything less than a robust, user-friendly online experience. Big banks are already meeting this standard. The question is whether smaller institutions will be prepared to meet the standard in time for an entire generation who demands it - and is now preparing to invest in the American Dream.