Real Lessons From A Fake Millennial Credit Union

No credit union exists solely to serve millennials ... yet. However, making up First Millennial Credit Union brought to light what its creators really want from a financial institution.

 
 

For the past few weeks, Callahan staffers have been throwing around ideas about what a millennial credit union would look like. This resulted in the “founding” of First Millennial Credit Union, which CreditUnions.com covered last week in this April Fool’s Day blog. The Washington Post gave a shout out to the credit union in its list of April Fool’s Day stunts. Notice, this list is heavy in the tech and dog themes.

For its part, First Millennial offered future-looking tech, dog loans, Hamilton loans, and personality tests. And, of course, there was avocado toast. But joking aside, the credit union does feature creative elements that would make both millennial employees and millennial members happy. Not every idea made the final cut, all founders must make sacrifices, but the following were top-of-mind and still worth mentioning here:

  1. Cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions.
  2. An all-knowing algorithm in place of a human board of directors.
  3. Payment via emoji.
  4. Co-working space in the branches.
  5. Dividends returned in a subscription box.
  6. Shared equipment for small businesses, such as machines for at-home brewing.

First Millennial was a joke, but its founders took its mission seriously with the hope that some ideas and sentiments would resonate with credit unions trying to connect to the millennial generation. Here are five things we hope readers of CreditUnions.com learned from this fictitious cooperative, straight from the founders themselves.

 

 

No. 1: Align the credit union mission.

Jamie Maurer, Callahan Consulting Advisor: "Don’t be afraid to lead with mission above all else. Embrace the power of your purpose — the credit union story — when engaging with young members. According to a report from RSM, 70% of millennials are willing to spend more to support brands that align with their own values.

"Millennials want to be part of making the world a better place. The good news for credit unions is that they already invest in sustainability and give back to the communities they serve. To reach the next generation and cultivate a fresh new membership of loyal advocates, show how the credit union stands for something meaningful and prove it is fully committed to making a positive impact on our future quality of life."

No 2: Millennials have different lending and service needs.

Seth Shibelski, Marketing & Engagement Associate: "Millennials are a few away years from forming the backbone of the U.S. economy. Real wage growth has remained stagnant for 30 years, meaning our generation has a stark outlook on future earnings potential. How are credit unions going to attract members who don’t want to own a car? Who are so saddled with student debt that they aren’t interested in a mortgage? Start thinking of creative, or even radical, new products."

Deeba Izadpanah, Account Management Coordinator: "Millennials aren’t spending their money or time on the same things that older generations did. Find out what millennials want from their money and time and use that information to market to all younger generations — not just millennials. Offer financial education to get in front of potential members and teach them about credit unions before the banks get to them."

No. 3: Invest in technology.

Madison Harbin, Account Manager: “Smartphones are the new wallets, so focus on making mobile banking seamless — applying for an account, depositing checks, transferring money, etc. We have the world at our fingertips; the best way to get our attention is on our smartphones.”

Mike Zaleski, Account Management Coordinator: “Virtual reality branches might seem far-fetched, but fintech is improving every day. To remain relevant with tech-savvy members it is important to stay up-to-date. There's a fine line between what’s retro and what’s old. And retro is only fun when it has the same convenience and functionality as what’s modern.” 

No. 4: Sell culture.

Maya Neuman, Junior Industry Analyst: “In my recent job search, I looked at a lot of different companies and a big consideration for me was culture. I turned down other job offers from places that offered more money in favor of a place with a strong company culture. Millennials like to be recognized for their talents and have the opportunity to work together with people of all seniority and age in an organization.”

No. 5: Ask millennials to weigh-in.

Liz Furman, Senior Manager of Industry Analytics: “Millennials want a voice in the process. In the world of highly regulated and scrutinized financial services, it might be hard to imagine how members could weigh-in, but consider the idea of “up-voting” different products to give members a role in the decision-making at the credit union.”

Erik Payne, Associate Editor: “In a world that is increasingly data-driven, millennial preferences and behaviors are too often generalized and simplified. We don’t buy houses because we must enjoy renting small spaces. We’re killing Applebee’s because we prefer to eat at home. Instead of guessing what millennials want or why they do certain things, just ask them.”

And when in doubt, they want tech, culture, dogs, and avocado toast.   

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April 9, 2018


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