Credit unions and Gen Y need each other, and it's not hard to see why.
During CUNA Mutual's online Discovery conference, Brent Dixon, an adviser for Filene Research Institute specializing in young adult issues, began his presentation on attracting and retaining Gen Y members with some distressing numbers.
Young people are in deep financial trouble. In the past decade, average student debt levels rose from $9,250 to about $20,000. Additionally, the average college senior owes nearly $3,000 in credit card debt.
Credit unions are in trouble, too: Their average member is 47 years old and only 38% of their members are in their prime borrowing years, compared to 55% in 1985.
CUs have a great opportunity to present themselves as a way for young people to get back on track, but they often go about it the wrong way. Dixon said credit unions must focus on Gen Y 101--products and services--before they can worry about Gen Y 201, marketing.
The starting point for credit unions that want to be young people's primary financial institution is transaction products. Dixon said online services are key: 95% of Gen Y wants online banking, 84% wants online bill-pay and 84% wants e-statements.
Free is the default at this point, so Dixon recommended CUs "go freer" by offering rewards. He pointed to Apple Federal Credit Union, which has partnered with Visa to offer young people a check card they can use to earn points redeemable at Blockbuster, Staples and more than 150 other brands.