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How to Attract the Coveted Millennials to Your Community Bank

DATE PUBLISHED: October 31, 2017

jens-johnsson-121807-unsplashMillennials – those between 18 and 36 years old – make up nearly 25% of the population, more than any other generational group, and attracting them to your community bank is vital to your success. 

However, a recent FIS study found that 57% of customers of community banks are over 52 years old, while only 18% are millennials. Giant banks, on the other hand have 65% of their customers under the age of 52, including a whopping 42% who are millennials.

And as older credit union members draw down their assets, have little need for loans, and eventually die off, your financial institution faces generational obsolescence unless it can pull in members of the newer generation.

But, how do you attract them?

Simple. Talk with them and discover what they want.

The Role of Advisory Panels in Attracting Millennial Customers

Millennial Advisory Panels

Centric Bank in Harrisburg, Pa., created a 16-person millennial advisory board comprised of members of the 2,500-member-strong Harrisburg Young Professionals. The goal is “to explore what type of relationship millennials want to have with their bank, what financial services they need, and how [it could] connect with them more authentically,” according to Patricia Husic, the bank’s CEO and president.

The concept appears to be working. The company recently opened a seventh location, and has been named one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies by the “Central Penn Business Journal.”

What Millennials Want from Their Community Bank


Millennials value authenticity – how transparent, real, and human your institution is, how it engages with its customers. For instance, do you try and cross-sell them a product to meet your quota, or do you try to cross-sell them a product by knowing them well enough to know what you bring real benefit to them at the moment?

In other words, building real relationships is key. Millennials are sophisticated and smart, but they don’t know everything. Some need help understanding how to budget, others want to know how to improve credit scores, or how to save for a house while managing student debt. 

Fill these needs with seminars, webinars, in-school presentations. Educate and inform. Sure, it’s OK to mention how great your bank is – but that shouldn’t be the focal point. The idea is to let the millennials know you are there to help them solve their pain points.

As Paul Schaus, president and CEO of CCG Catalyst notes, “Millennials want their banks to advise them. They want advice on how much to save and budget.”

Digital First, But Not at the Expense of Human Interaction

Millennials on Smartphones

Millennials grew up with smartphones. They use them to text, watch videos, browse the internet, email, and sometimes even talk.  On average, they spend 223 minutes per day on their mobile devices up from 188 minutes in 2016, and check their phones 157 times in any given day.

In a typical month, they’ll access their community bank 8.5 times online, compared with only 3.1 times by other generational groups. 

Clearly a mobile app is essential. But it’s got to do more than allow for balance checking and check depositing. Think person-to-person payments, credit limit alerts, and personal financial management tools that make saving and investing easy. 

However, they also visit their local branches in person –  with 71% of them visiting a branch and average of 11 times in a year, according to J.D. Powell. where they expect the same personalized and instantaneous processes as they enjoy on their phones. Self-service kiosks, instant issuance of debit and credit cards, and simple loan processes are all expected., says Rob Dixon of the CPI Card Group.


We all have preferred modes of communication – and millennials are adept at many of them. They expect you to be available by text, email, and online chat. And, they expect you to respond to them when they mention you on social media. 

Millennials spent more than six hours a week on social media in 2016, according to a Nielson report, and nearly 40% of those on social media use it to learn about products and services. So, while it’s OK to tout a new product or loan campaign, it’s not OK to do only that. If you’re mentioned, positively or negatively, they’ll expect that you’ll see it and they expect a response.  Remember, social media is a form on engagement, not just a sales platform.

Gain Their Attention with a Loan Campaign

Once you’ve talked with millennials and have a better sense of their needs and wants, you can create loan campaigns with them in mind. Create buyer personas, perhaps one for your ideal millennial customer, one for the young people looking to build their credit, and another for those who aspire to more education, a vacation or their first home.

And, it’s not all that hard to do. Our eBook, “How to Drive New Business with Loan Campaigns,” explains it all – and it’s free.

Stand Out

Fifty-three percent of millennials don’t think their financial institution offers anything that’s any different from other banks, which means it’s imperative that you see the difference and convey it to them. If you need branding help, or new marketing ideas to bring in the millennials, Palmer Ad Agency is here to help. Give us a call at 415-771-2327.