When I was first asked to pen this column, my first thought was, why would someone from Gen Y make a conscious, informed decision to join a credit union?
To gain some insight, I began quizzing my circle of close friends (who are in their late 20s, as I am) about where they bank and why, and it turned out two of them belong to a credit union.
The first one, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher, said she joined one because her parents were members. She expressed no complaints about her credit union and loves belonging to a financial institution that’s a cooperative, not a corporation. However, I wonder if this teacher friend of mine is an accurate representation of Gen Y. I consider my generation to be tech savvy and in need of speed and convenience, and we’re not always the wisest decision makers when it comes to money management. This friend, on the other hand, sticks to a strict savings plan, does not own a smartphone, paid cash for a new car, is a homeowner and calls herself "the only twenty-something who balances her checkbook down to the penny."
My second credit union member friend, a 28-year-old financial analyst, fits the Gen Y mold a little more closely–she proudly totes a smartphone and enjoys spending her hard-earned paychecks on vacations and new clothes without stressing over every cent. But her reason for joining a credit union comes from a place of frugality. She said she joined because the credit union offered the best rates on loans.
The low loan rate incentive is one that makes a lot of sense to Gen Y. In your 20s, it’s all about "firsts" when it comes to big purchases like cars and houses. In making these coveted purchases, there’s no doubt every Gen Y member would want to do it as inexpensively as possible.
For me, choosing a place to bank has been about convenience and location. A banking feature that’s high on my priority list is the ability to complete transactions quickly, conveniently and electronically.
I regularly use banking apps on my iPhone as well as bank websites to check account balances, make transfers and pay bills. I also take full advantage of check depositing capabilities at the ATM.
They say it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. For credit unions looking to attract members of Gen Y and develop a life-long relationship with them, that first impression must demonstrate the reasons why they’d make a good match, whether that includes a great collection of low-cost loan products, convenient banking solutions or even the fulfillment of belonging to a member-owned financial institution.