By Rhiannon Stone
Now more than ever, credit unions must have a foundational grasp of the characteristics, values and beliefs that should be considered when formulating attraction and retention strategies aimed at specific generational targets.
Currently, the average age of a credit union member ranges from mid-to-late forties, putting a significant portion of members in Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers grew up managing financial, family, and societal insecurity, dealing with rapid change and great diversity, and experiencing a lack of solid tradition which produced a sense of individualism over collectivism, according to Professors Karen Smola and Charlotte Sutton.
By understanding Gen Xers’ individualism as well as their shared characteristics, values and beliefs, credit unions can better communicate with and appeal to Gen Xers on how membership can help them achieve their specific financial goals and objectives.
With many having experienced parents getting laid off and/or divorced, some Gen Xers can be highly skeptical and untrusting of institutions like credit unions. As such, when being pitched on the litany of benefits credit unions bring to the table, those Gen Xers can be highly doubtful to say the least. Credit union leaders must have the foresight to anticipate potential questions and be ready to provide clarification and insights when necessary.
These conversations will serve as a critical juncture where these Gen Xers will determine if they can trust you to have their best financial interests in mind. Leaders have to embrace this high degree of skepticism and view it as a real opportunity to bring new members on board.
Offer Honest Feedback
After discussing goals and objectives, credit unions should provide open and honest feedback into how, or even whether they believe, their institutions’ services and offerings align with that individual’s needs. Gen Xers highly value honest, direct, and unfiltered communication. Therefore, if you give them a salesy routine, they will not buy it – full stop.
Gen Xers have seen firsthand the ushering in of personal computers, the internet, the iPhone, and many other technological advancements. Thus, Gen Xers have a high threshold for fulfilling their technological desires. According to a BAI survey of Gen Xers, “Online banking is the most preferred banking channel at 27%, barely edging out mobile at 26%. ATMs represent 20%, as do visits to the branch office.” Furthermore, a Raddon survey found that 26% of Gen X “anticipates supplementing traditional banking services with solutions from technology companies.”
Credit union leaders must ensure their institution is agile and prepared to integrate new technologies that can fulfill the dynamic needs of Generation X as well as all other generations.
Open & Honest
Overall, credit unions should consistently be running thorough analyses into their member base and seeking to understand the common characteristics, values and beliefs of each generation. As a whole, Gen Xers are open to changing financial institutions as long as you are willing to be open and honest on how you think you can provide the support they need, have an analytical conversation about credit union benefits and expose them to the latest and greatest technologies available through your institution.
Rhiannon Stone is Chief Operating Officer at EPL, Inc. For info: www.eplinc.com.