AUX Blog

What Millennials Care About at the Place They Bank

September 19, 2018

Hello, my name is Alicia, and I am a Millennial. I’ve been a Millennial for 31 years. I recently asked Millennials via Facebook to participate in a survey titled “What is most important to you at the place you bank?”, and I’d like to discuss the results with you, as well as my general opinion on what the heck Millennials want in the first place.

First of all, I’d like to preface this article by establishing myself as an expert-level Millennial. I like to call it a Certified Millennial™. Below are the qualifications I have to achieve Certified Millennial™.

1. Enjoys overly-fancy coffee drinks
2. Has student loan debt
3. Eats avocado toast
4. Looks back fondly upon the 90s
5. Routinely mocked about how Millennials ruin everything
6. Had an unpaid internship during the Great Recession
7. Addicted to phone

Now, let’s get down to business on this survey and what I think of the results. I recently asked this simple but ridiculously important question to my Millennial friends via Facebook: What is most important to you at the place you bank?

I narrowed the survey answers down to 5 common choices:

1. Location: I don’t like to have to drive far to visit a branch
2. Services: I like having a lot of tools available to me, like quick deposit and other tech
3. Customer Service: Being treated like a human and not a number is most important to me
4. Security: Banking someplace that does everything they can to protect my accounts/identity
5: Making Money: I’d bank where the savings rates are highest and loan rates are lowest

As you can see, I didn’t specify anything about credit unions. Again, I wanted to keep the survey neutral, but I would assume most of the respondents’ primary FIs were banks.

All About the Services

Nearly half of those surveyed said that (2) Services were most important. These include tech products like mobile deposit, P2P options like Zelle, sophisticated apps and seamless digital banking (that is never down and always works). Millennials are obsessed with ease of use. I am still delighted that my FI updated its mobile deposit app to automatically take a photo of the front/back of a check for me once it was in focus, instead of me having to fumble with focusing and pressing a button at the right time.

I am not surprised a majority of the participants felt that services and technology are important, but I am surprised that they felt it is most important, even before locations.

The problem for credit unions is that services and new technology are expensive to acquire and keep up-to-date. This is especially true for small credit unions who rely on a shoestring budget, as they simply do not have the resources to be constantly implementing and updating their services.

Think Of Me Like a House Cat

Now, 25% of participants did respond that (1) location is most important, which is still a substantial figure. These are individuals who simply feel comfortable having a location close by, even if they only visit it once a year. Millennials like options. Even if they absolutely never ever have to go into a branch, they like to know they can. Think of a cat: They meow to be let outside, but then when you let them out, they immediately want to come back in. They simply like the idea of being able to go in or out at their leisure.

Millennials’ desire to have a branch close by is certainly to the advantage of larger credit unions, or ones that are part of the Shared Branching network. It is a tough sell to many a Millennial to tell them you can only do your banking on one tiny corner of your neighborhood. What if said Millennial moves across town? Out of state? 2,000 miles away? Millennials are mobile. A majority do not own homes (65%) (site), and switch jobs considerably more often than other Generations. A LinkedIn data-crunch shows that the Millennial who graduated in 2006 averaged nearly three jobs in just a five year period (site). Most people enjoy living near the job and banking near where they live. One can see why a credit union having convenient locations, or at least a way for members to access a branch, is important to this mobile group of individuals.

I am a Human Being!

20% of participants said that (3) customer service was most important to them. This is good news for credit unions, who excel at customer service. Year after year, credit unions sweep FI competition in this area (site). Spreading the word about how you are different, better, and more transparent than banks will drive Millennials to you. Although Millennials love their technology, they still want to be respected at a face-to-face level. They adore an exceptional customer service experience, and a place where they feel welcome and unjudged for their tattoos and/or piercings. They’d love for their FI to get involved in philanthropy, have a recycling bin on site, respect their time and be honest and upfront with them.

I was doing some research on customers’ routine irritations with FIs. Guess what kept showing up, over and over? A horrible automated phone tree. Getting stuck pressing numbers over and over to reach someone. These are the types of annoyances that Millennials have absolutely no patience with. First of all, if they actually have to talk on the phone, they are going to want it to be efficient and fast. These types of experiences that other generations tolerate are simply intolerable for Millennials who expect more from the places they patronize.

Steal My Card, I Don’t Care

Only 12% of those surveyed chose (4) Security, and less than 10% chose (5) Making Money. Millennials don’t really fuss if their accounts get hacked or even if their accounts are monetarily beneficial in the slightest. We have never made money on our accounts, and have never known any different than the 0.1% savings interest rate.  We’ve also been through countless hacks, fraudulent purchases, phishing scams…you name it. Again, we’ve never known any different. It’s no skin off Millennials’ backs to occasionally report a fraudulent purchase on their cards, just make it easy for them to close it and get a new one. Heck, if they don’t have to talk to anyone in the process, even better!

Plain and simple: Millennials want things to be easy.

They may grumble occasionally, but they would much rather be able to pay their friend who loaned them $50 with a tap of a button. So keep those services coming as best you can and promote your locations and exceptional customer service! Throw in a decent loan rate every once in a while and you’ve unlocked the key to Millennial satisfaction (cold brew organic 2% latte not included).


Alicia Disantis is the Marketing Program Manager at CU Service Network and director of this fine blog. She currently holds the Millennial world record for longest employment duration (6.5 years!)

Learn more about Alicia here

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