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How to Attract Millennial Clients to Your Credit Union

DATE PUBLISHED: October 24, 2017

priscilla-du-preez-234138-unsplash-1Millennials – 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 credit union is vital to your success.

However, a recent FIS study found that 46% of credit union members are over 52 years old, while 32% 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 Members

Millennial Advisory Panels

The average age of a credit union’s governing board is in the mid-60s, and not all are in touch with how millennials think and what they want. Some institutions, like Mountain America Credit Union, have taken the bold step of creating advisory boards in local schools and colleges. The young people talk to credit union execs about what they’d like to see in their financial institution and how they’d like to interact. The credit union also asks for their suggestion on design concepts and rewards programs.

As Mountain America’s Shelby Peterson said, “We don’t make assumptions about what we think Millennials — members or employees may want. We ask them, and their feedback is the starting point.”

The process boosted their percentage of millennial members from 30% in 2010 to 41% in 2017.

What Millennials Want from Their Credit Union


Millennials value authenticity – how transparent, real, and human your institution is, how it engages with its members. 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 CU 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 credit union 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 credit unions, 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.