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Recently, The New York Times ran an article in its fashion section headlined, “When No One Wants to Look Like a Banker.”The article chronicled the death of the power suit as we know it since the economic downturn started last year. With the public view of financial institutions so low, the article said many professionals are going for a toned-down look. The article quoted a Manhattan store owner that he’s had customers come in saying, “I don’t want to look like a banker anymore.”The view of banks and bankers is so negative that people don’t even want to be caught dressing like a banker, which means to me that it’s never been a better time to be a credit union.A recent Forrester Research study, looking at what makes credit union customers different than bank customers, reported that ComScore recently released information that Web searches for “credit union” have almost doubled in the past year.It’s no secret that consumers in general are unhappy with big banks. In my opinion, my generation is going to come out of this recession especially jaded by big banks, corporations and greed.The gut reaction should be to position your credit union as far away from banks as possible. But some smart credit unions are positioning themselves to be more bank-like than ever. Not all things banks do are evil, and there are things they do well, such as using technology to offer the most convenient services.As jaded and fed up as my generation is with big institutions, there are not many of us who are willing to trade convenient service for small-town values.Any credit union who wants young members should offer mobile banking and alerts. Most major banks offer these and do an excellent job in showcasing them.Commercials for PNC Banks virtual wallet always spark my interest. It’s budgeting done easy and all in one spot. Instead of keeping track myself, I go to my account and see what bills are due, when I’m going to have money coming in and when my money is going to be going out.Other banks even offer features that show what I’m spending the most money on. Instead of having to sit down and figure it out myself, it’s all right there for me to see.Empathy is something that is going to go a long way right now. My generation is looking for help and validation. We want to talk to a person not a machine. And a person who understands our problems, where we’re coming from and knows how to help.Empathy is credit unions’ bread and butter. I see examples of it all the time with financial literacy events and programs directed toward my generation.Gen Y needs to know how to budget. We need to know how to control our finances. Part of the solution is getting out there and teaching us, but the other part is making sure we have the best tools possible to do it.Yes, it is important for me to know how to sit down and budget my finances on my own. But when given the option of doing it myself or signing on to an online banking tool that does it for me, I’m going to take the lazy way out. Realistically. yes, we should all know how to balance our checkbooks. But when I make 10 purchases a day with my debit card, I’m not going to sit down and write them all in. And if given the choice between balancing my checkbook and getting an alert by my phone when my money is low, I’m again going to choose the lazy way out.If credit unions can offer the same technology that banks have mastered and pair it with service and empathy, my generation will see no reason not to switch to a credit union.–[email protected]

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