As a member of Gen Y, I’ve become very accustomed to being told what I want in a financial institution. Every expert out there seems to know what I want before I do. Thank goodness for that, because I know personally, without the elder generation telling me what I want, I don’t think I would ever really know.
On a serious note, I have a problem with a vast majority statistical data generated in regards to the subject of Gen Y. The problem with surveys, is that they ask the wrong types of questions. The data gathered by a lot of surveys are based on a split second decision based on imaginary circumstances of what ifs. At the time, a participant might think, “I would like “X” service,” but once the product or service is used regularly for 3-6 months, it may not fit their financial needs the way they fantasized it would.
We are asking the wrong questions. We are asking what Gen Y wants out of a financial, rather than asking what they want out of their Credit Union, an organization which they have become a member of. This is an important differentiation. What draws members into a Credit Union above and beyond products and rates, is their social awareness, vision, and concern for their members and the communities they serve.
Don’t get me wrong. I do believe Credit Unions need to stay relevant in regards to technology and services, but I believe there is another aspect to Gen Y that is being ignored and forgotten because of flawed survey results and preconceived notions Credit Union land, financial experts, and the rest of society, already have about this mystery generation.
In addition to that, I’ve also come to realization that everyone outside of Gen Y knows, and likes to announce, every fault that we seemingly all possess. To be blunt, I’ve learned that as a member of Gen Y, I am a lazy, self-centered, cry baby with a ridiculous sense of entitlement. Also, I want success and I want it NOW! Hard work is for the generations past and I expect my future to be handed to me on a silver platter with the perks and salary of a CEO.
Also as a member of Gen Y, I’ve come to have a fondness for satirical pieces of literature.
The one “stereotype” these experts don’t seem to hit on very often, is that despite the negative connotations associated with the phrase “Gen Y”, this up and coming group of young adults is very socially and environmentally conscious, and desire, for the most part, a sense of community and camaraderie.
This is something I NEVER see advertised. I see rates and products. Let’s be honest… in my early 20’s I am in no position to be rate shopping. Long story short, this is insignificant me and has very little influence on where I choose to do business. (Loyalty will always take precedence over rates in my mind.)
So what does this have to do with anything?
I was very recently reflected on why I have such a strong loyalty towards my current Credit Union. It wasn’t the rates. It wasn’t the free checking, I can get that at any Credit Union. It wasn’t their home banking or bill pay, though I must admit, they are pretty stellar. I could not pin point why XYZ Credit Union was able to keep me loyal when I had switch Credit Unions three times in the past two years. Then, all at once, it hit me.
I love what they represent. The other Credit Unions I had belonged to had a brand, but I didn’t see it, I didn’t hear about it, and honestly, I didn’t care about it because it didn’t pertain to me. (See there is that self-centered thing I was talking about earlier.) My current C.U.’s charter revolves around a local university. Said university has strong ties to the community, a very successful and well known sports program, and academic success to brag about. I care about this university. I care about their sports team. I care about their success.
My Credit Union is fortunate in the fact that this well-known university built a successful brand for them. Their members care about the university, it’s mascot, it’s sports team, it’s students, and in the long run, the Credit Union which is associated to it, whether this is a conscious decision or not.
So what is the point of all this? You love your Credit Union, big whoop.
If Credit Unions want to impress and entice this mystery generation to become members of their organization, become loyal, life time members, they need to make Gen Y care about them, what they represent, and why they are doing for their members and the communities they serve.
Gen Y wants to see results, not just hear about the good you want to do. We want to see result locally that affect us and our communities directly. We want to see that Credit Union difference that everyone is raving about. Not only that, but we want to be involved, because as I stated before, we’re self-centered and we like to brag. The up side to this, is that we will brag to all our friends who are feeling lost and unaccounted for in the confusing world of financial indifference they are drowning in, and follow our lead.
Bottom line, not many of us are going to care about XYZ Credit Union with the good rates. Our generation however, will hang out for an extra minute to hear all about what ABC Credit Union did for the communities we care about. That’s pretty cool.
Credit Unions need to start thinking of themselves and branding themselves as an indisputable and irreplaceable part of the community because of what they do, rather than a place to put money with fewer fees and better rates. We are socially aware and we want to do business somewhere that shares our views.
Obviously, as a peon, I’m no expert, but if I feel this way, chances are, a good amount of my peers do as well. So as experts sit back and judge Gen Y, label us by making general assumptions based on the decisions and actions of a few, and surveys taken by many with little experience to base their answers upon, we as a generation, will also be judging Credit Unions, and other businesses, in the same way. Advertise rates, and fall into the abyss, you will be just another financial institution. Stand out in the community, and you will stand out to us, an outlier, fighting against the stereotypes that so unfairly define Credit Unions and Gen Y alike, as we are so much more then what we are given credit for.