Credit unions expecting to profit markedly and gain many new accounts from Bank Transfer Day fallout and Occupy protests will need to drastically step up their technology game, according to a California research firm.
In a harsh appraisal of future industry fortunes, James Van Dyke, founder of Javelin Strategy & Research of Pleasanton, warned that CUs stand to “go the way of the Oldsmobile” based on their technology performance so far.
While the industry enjoys the public’s love, it sorely lacks the full tech expertise to appeal to a younger clientele retained by large banks, declared Van Dyke.
In a Javelin report reviewing Bank Transfer Day account movement from large banks, Van Dyke told Credit Union Times that CUs need to work much harder at upgrading tech-based products based on evidence drawn from the Nov. 5 Transfer Day event as well as from the Occupy movement.
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.
While younger people may outwardly direct their anger at banks, taking a look at the protesters’ signs it appears they are held up by someone holding a mobile device in one hand “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 the always-on and real-time technologies they enjoy, argued Van Dyke.
Nonetheless, this kind of attitude among potential young members should be raising alarm bells in CU board rooms, he warned, adding that CUs should, however, avoid a response of buying every new technology pitched to them by vendors.
Rather, CUs 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.”
“Make a small number of wise investments to see an increase in membership and higher profitability,” he suggested. “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 Transfer Day activity, Van Dyke said the firm’s research shows that that 5.6 million U.S. adults with a banking relationship changed providers in a 90-day period ending last month.
Of those switchers, 610,000 U.S. 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.
The exodus “was certainly not the massive departure banks might have feared,” said Van Dyke, noting that research shows the people are highly resistant to move their accounts.