Long-Term Growth Starts With School Days
When you head out to work in the morning this time of year, the temperature is a bit more comfortable that it was a week or so ago. Some days it’s even cool. That means it’s back-to-school time. It can also be an opportune time for credit unions.
Something to consider would be small-dollar loans to help pay for all the No. 2 pencils and loose leaf paper. Bankrate.com reported that PriceGrabber found that 48% of parents plan to spend $250 or more on back-to-school shopping this year.
At a household where a parent may be out of work or underemployed, that small amount of money can mean a lot. As many of you know nothing binds ties like helping parents take care of their children.
The children are your conduit to new and younger members. My kids’ school has a bank branch in it to serve them. Never fear, my children use our credit union, but this early exposure to financial services is a great means to educate young children.
A student assembly could be your next foot in the door to the school as well as the community of cute little germ-infested potential members. There are two important rules to this though. 1) don’t be patronizing. And 2) think like a seven-year-old or whatever age your audience is.
Unlike adults (hopefully), you’ll be required to entertain in order to educate. Use pop culture references, music, skits or whatever it takes to get their attention and hold it. Make it interactive. Get them dancing, too. Ask them questions and answer their questions.
Prioritize these efforts so that you are consistently in the school for presentations or reading in the classroom. These efforts can make everyone’s—credit union employees’ and students’—days brighter, today and down the road.
No, credit unions will not grow like weeds on little Tommy’s allowance money today. Paying above market sums on CDs to retain rate-chasing, elderly members doesn’t either, and the difference is the latter relationship never will pay off for the credit union again.
I’m not suggesting not serving elderly members; credit unions need all of their members for a diversity of purposes. However, the return to the credit union and its entire membership must come into play when considering which members to work to retain or attract.
Because in 10 years, little Tom will be looking for a car loan. And after another couple of years a student loan for college. The CUNA Lending Council recently looked into the success of the nation’s top 10 credit union student lenders by portfolio size.
Though many of the credit unions were closely associated with a school of higher education, not all of them were. Each of the credit unions surveyed from the list reported low delinquencies and charges offs. They emphasized the importance of a working relationship with the schools and concentration limits.
Also recognize the potential long-term relationship is the real value. If they move away from the area of the school or your credit union while following their dreams, top-notch online and mobile services are a must if the relationship is to have a chance of continuing.
A decade later, Thomas will be purchasing his first home. Then he’ll co-sign for his kids’ first car or student loans. Eventually, Thomas will become that CD rate-chasing elderly member. With a diverse and solid suite of products and services, he could be all yours through his entire financial lifecycle–until your credit union is going after his great-grandchildren to sign up for membership.
Over the last couple of decades, but particularly in the last couple of years, many organizations have lost sight of long-term growth in favor of short-term earnings. Credit unions face some of this pressure, too, but because they don’t have immediate return-minded stockholders they have the flexibility to look farther out on the horizon.
You also have so much more to offer younger members, and they need credit unions more than their predecessors. In the 1960s a 20-something entering the workforce was less likely to need a college degree for his or her chosen career path.
Now, the cost of college is rising faster than wages, leaving some wondering about the return they’ll get on a college degree, as the lending council noted in its study. (Thanks for using editors as an example.)
Those employees also didn’t have to worry about retirement options because they were going to stay at that plant for 30 years and their employers would take care of that. IRAs didn’t exist until 1974.
Now there’s the Roth, SEP, SIMPLE, you name it, and very few things can be more difficult for someone entering the workforce to imagine than what they’re going to need when they prepare to leave it. Credit unions must be there every step of the way.