The millennial “problem”

At an event I attended recently, credit union CEOs were asked to share what one thing they could use a hand with to enhance their careers as leaders (which at times evolved to “what is my credit union struggling with today?”). One item that came up more than once was the idea that millennials are going to be the death of the credit union.

Full disclosure, I probably fall in the millennial category, although on the older side. But I got this impression that some credit unions view millennials as the enemy, whose will must be bent to that of the credit union. I heard that millennials don’t want to pay for their share; they’re only looking for handouts, etc.

The word “millennial” has come to represent the entitled, the lazy, the uncooperative, and needy. The way I see it? Millennials represent a whole new market of opportunity, and many credit unions seem unwilling to adapt to serve this new market even as the one they’ve traditionally served shrinks.

Millennials are a generation that have been presented with nearly limitless choices, with suppliers reaching from around the globe. All the same, some CUs expect them to operate as consumers in a localized world, where few options are presented to them, so they should pay up and be thankful.

The opportunity to serve this demographic is out there. To engage them in different ways, and to draw them in not only as consumers, but as potential owners of something with real value. How is your credit union speaking to them and relating its mission to that of the many cooperative enterprises that have captured their attention?

Consider Kickstarter, one of the most popular crowdfunding websites. Where millions of people offer to financially support fledgling artists, musicians, and businesses. Not that unlike the way cooperative financial institutions like credit unions got their start–communities came together to support those in need. But I don’t see enough credit unions really trying to deliver this idea of community development and cooperation.

There are ways to capture the attention of the millennial, to draw them in, to convince them of the benefits of cooperative financial institutions, and yes, to eventually reap the benefits as they grow into profitable consumers of your services. To do that though, credit unions need to stop seeing them as an enemy or as wild animals that need to be broken.

4 Replies to “The millennial “problem””

  1. Recognizing that credit union board of directors and management teams are not made up of ‘millennial’ members, there is much misunderstanding about this marketplace. Only when the advantages of how millennials approach the financial industry are taken ‘seriously’ by the corporate strategies of credit unions, will membership growth and other delivery channels to provide products offered succeed.

  2. There has to be a huge shift in the mindset of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers about Millennials. Millennials have had a different upbringing…it’s as simple as that. They think differently and want different things than their predecessors did. The cool thing is that Millennials are also reasonably unaffected by hierarchy and are happy to share their ideas with anyone from their coworkers to the folks in the C-Suite. So CU CEOs can work toward bridging that communication gap by reaching out and asking them what they want in an FI.

  3. Having sat through many millennial sessions at conferences and engaging “crashes” they are telling us and in their opinion we don’t do anything or listen to them, probably much like our owners. Change is perceived as hard.

  4. CUs shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. We don’t need young people, just because they are young. We need to serve (and serve darn well) whatever generation fits into the desired field of membership. And oh BTW, while credit unions were having the conversation of the millennial (previously GenY in CU sessions of years past), they grew up. So referencing millennial is not even really referencing the youth. And, whoever said they’ll be the death of his credit union, should probably head to hospice. 😉

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