How's your credit union's youth marketing initiatives working out for you?

I gave a presentation about what I've learned in my 17 years in business last week to a group of bright young business administration students at the University College of the Fraser Valley.

It's not often you have a large audience of 19- to 23-year-old students to talk to, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to end by asking a few questions about credit unions. 

Here are some of the questions and a sample of the answers from my mini youth marketing focus group:

  1. Q: Is there a difference between credit unions and banks?
    A: "Banks have better service and better hours." ... "Banks are more convenient."
  2. Q: How did you choose your existing financial institution?
    A: "My parents opened the account for me." ... "I needed a student loan, and this bank was the only one that would give me the money."
  3. Q: What would make you switch financial institutions?
    A: "Nothing, they are all the same." ... "It doesn't matter." ... "A better rate."
  4. Q: Do you understand all this registered retirement savings plan jargon?
    A: "No. I am interested in investing, but I have been to a bank and a credit union and both places didn't have the time of day to answer my questions."
  5. Q: What is the biggest challenge you will be facing in the next five years? How can your financial institution help?
    A: "I want to open a business when I get my degree. I know that no bank or credit union will be interested in financing my idea. I will finance it privately." ... "I want to buy a house and I intend to be debt free in five years. I plan on borrowing the money from my parents."
  6. Q: Can financial institutions effectively use social media to connect with young people?
    A: "No, it would seem like a PR stunt."

Yikes. This is just a sampling of the answers I received to my questions. You can certainly see the feelings of indifference and disenfranchisement that young people feel towards financial institutions. In fact, there seems to be no understanding of the credit union difference and those that spoke up saw the banks as the better alternative.

Obviously, credit unions need to connect and cultivate relationships with young people to remain successful in the future. If this is how young people are feeling about what your credit unions have to offer, there is a lot of work to do!

Tim