At an event I attended, 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 credit unions 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 (and even well-established) artists, musicians, and businesses. Not that unlike the way cooperative financial institutions like credit unions got their start: communities that 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.