MADISON, Wis. - Credit union resources for kids is growing. Whether it's a kids club newsletter, credit union links to the CUNA originated kids site called Googolplex or a special but limited checking account, more and more credit unions are catering to the needs of youth, according to CUNA's Credit Union Services Profile. Although the survey lacks details of those services, said Philip Heckman, youth outreach director for CUNA & Affiliates, it does show that 4% (or 735) of 18,375 credit unions in 1984 offered youth services. In 1999, that number grew to 25% (or 2,754) of 11,016 credit unions, he said. Despite this growth, there still isn't a lot of research giving more detail to those findings. Heckman hopes that an upcoming study, "Marketing Youth and Senior Programs Survey," will make the needed difference. "We're looking for a little more detail on what those special programs consist of," he said, adding that the results should be available next year. Beyond the details missing from the statistics, Heckman said that "credit unions are recognizing that it's easier to involve people before the age of 18 and keep them as adult members." Rick Stokes, director of marketing for the City Employees Credit Union in Dallas, agrees. They started a teen and college-aged checking account this year and have watched their Kids Club membership grow from more than 750 to 1,600 members in about two years. The recent addition of products or checking accounts follows the credit union's new slogan: "You and Your Credit Union: A Lifetime Relationship." "Starting the education process early helps us retain that member and become their primary financial institution over the years," Stokes said. These younger groups are valuable, said Bradford Caldwell, executive director for the Campus Credit Union Council. Caldwell, who works with college-aged youth, said that in the past, financial institutions have seen this age group as not as profitable because they need only basic services. "We say that's true - they don't make the credit unions money, but if you build loyalty now, then it will pay off in the long run," he said. "I think that's where credit unions can grow as far as membership, and they're a very important market to go after. They do pay off in five to 10 years." When establishing a program for the youth, Heckman said there are some points to consider. "A youth program should go beyond the things that come to mind first," he said, giving a mascot, games or toys as two examples. "Those are very important, especially for the younger groups, but I'd like them to start taking a comprehensive view of youth services." The fun benefits of a kid's club are only a starting point to get a youth's attention, Heckman said. "We make it (Kid's Clubs) fun," said Stokes, adding that fun doesn't override substance. "But, we always include an article like the importance of savings." Education is a big need for this group, including college-age students who are bombarded with credit card offers, according to Caldwell. "Education is what helps credit unions attract these members. Teach them about budgeting and savings," he said. "Educate them now, and it will save you a lot of money and them a lot of money in the long run." -email@example.com
Credit union marketing to youth seems to be growing
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