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BOSTON-Using examples from her own life, Counter Intelligence Associates President and CEO Diane Johnson told credit unions that they need to loosen up to properly serve the incoming crop of members. Take Johnson’s 22-year old daughter who is entering a doctorate program, graduated high school at sixteen, and recently bought a condominium in San Diego. Now, take her other daughter, age 20, who still lives at home and is a little, for lack of a better term, flaky, as Johnson describes her. Do credit unions want to serve a member like her older daughter at the risk of getting her younger one, too? Johnson chastised the credit unions for being “notorious for interpreting no credit as bad credit.” Credit unions are telling potential members to establish their credit elsewhere, then come back and talk. Not going to work, Johnson said. “The first credit card is always the one that is kept and used the longest,” she explained. Instead, credit unions simply need to adapt a `Why not?’ policy, price for the risk and make the loan, she advocated. “What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the downside? What’s the risk if we don’t make that loan?” Johnson asked. She also pointed out that there is a growing segment of homeowners under the age of 25. Young people need credit with education, she stressed. Last year, minors spent $172 billion on the Internet last year, she added, and credit unions should want a piece of that. Credit unions need to begin marketing to the 12- and 14-year-olds, Johnson said, especially since the average credit union member is 44-years-old and rising. She doesn’t advocate issuing credit cards to any middle schooler who enters a branch, but she suggested considering credit cards secured with a savings account or pre-paid cards. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be high risk, but it needs to be creative,” Johnson said. She also recommended setting up a youth page on the credit union’s Web site, in addition to a young singles page and a young family page. Young adults could serve as an excellent pool for business loans as well, she said. [email protected]

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