In a harsh appraisal of the industry’s future ability to gain much new business from Bank Transfer Day fallout, a California-based research firm warned Monday that credit unions stand to “go the way of the Oldsmobile.”
Credit unions may enjoy the public’s “love” but they sorely lack the full tech expertise to appeal to a younger clientele which many banks, particularly large ones, retain, declared James Van Dyke, founder of Javelin Strategy & Research in Pleasanton.
In a report issued last week reviewing Bank Transfer Day account movement from large banks, Van Dyke told Credit Union Times that credit unions need to work much harder at upgrading technology-based products.
Based on interviews with Occupy and Bank Transfer Day participants, Van Dyke said “these young faces are avid users of the kinds of social, mobile and online technologies that are in shortest supply at credit unions” but proliferate at banks.
The anger may be directed at banks, he said, but “the protesters’ signs” are being held by someone “holding a mobile device that is best suited for use at the very bank described in the sign held by the other hand.”
These “young adults” may have the desire “to love another financial institution” like a credit union but they are not about to give up “always-on and real time technologies” they enjoy, said Van Dyke.
This kind of attitude among the youth “should be raising alarm bells” in CU board rooms, he warned, but adding that while methodically improving services, credit unions “should not respond by buying every new technology pitched to them by vendors.”
Rather, he said, they should “prioritize the offers with a business case that allows the new technologies to pay for themselves. Think about acquisition, cross-sell, cost-minimization and loyalty … all in ways that reward both the new member and the credit union,” he advocated. “Make a small number of wise investments to see an increase in membership and higher profitability,” the Javelin founder said. “If young consumers are willing to stand in line through the night to get the next version of an iPhone, they’ll become fans of a financial institution that gives them a similar experience.”
In his report assessing BTD activity, Van Dyke said the firm’s research shows that that 5.6 million U.S. adults with a banking relationship changed providers in the past 90 days. Of those switchers, 610,000 US adults--or 11% of the 5.6 million--cited Bank Transfer Day as their reason and actually moved their accounts from a large to a small institution.
“With a Google search of ‘Bank Transfer Day’ returning fully 22 million responses we’re not surprised that these angry bank-switchers represent nearly a three-time increase over the amount of people who took their funds out of large banks for the same stated reason during the previous 90-day period in 2011,” he said.
The exodus “was certainly not the massive departure banks might have feared,” Van Dyke said, noting that research shows the people are highly resistant to move their accounts “and even Huffington Post’s similarly positioned 2008 ‘MoveYourMoneyProject.org’ failed to barely even register in previous Javelin surveys.”