As they oppose banks’ larger marketing budgets, credit unions try to attract younger members

The future of credit unions depends on attracting young members, and in a world where a lack of financial education often makes banks the default financial institution for students, cooperatives’ student recruitment strategies credit can make all the difference to their success. This is because young members will likely remain loyal to the fund for the rest of their lives.

The problem: Banks’ typically larger marketing budgets make them more visible, which helps draw customers of all ages into their arms. Students, often inspired by their parents, tend to choose banks, many of them not realizing that they are eligible to join a credit union. According to a investigation According to GoBankingRates, 26% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 use credit unions, while 36% of people in this age group opt for national banks such as Chase, Bank of America, US Bank and Wells Fargo. Older people are much more likely to choose credit unions: among respondents aged 65 and over, 60% are members of a credit union.

“Many credit unions are dealing with an aging generation,” said Spencer Carver, assistant vice president of select employer group development at Mountain America Credit Union, based in Sandy, Utah. “With multiple financial disruptors such as FinTech industries, Mountain America must be able to provide at least equal or greater value to students to attract them to the credit union.”

In an effort to attract students, some credit unions have launched creative campaigns to appeal to younger audiences. For example, Titusville, Florida-based CCU Florida recently launched a program in partnership with Alyssa Carsona budding astronaut who wants to be the first woman on Mars; J. T. Hassell, a young NFL player committed to supporting youth mental health; and Emilie Zeck, a young entrepreneur with her own swimwear line. All are part of the new “321 Financial Liftoff” educational series that teaches financial literacy and meets the financial needs of younger generations. The website also offers informal and accessible information videos that educate about credit unions in general and CCU Florida in particular, further encouraging student participation and increasing awareness of the potential value of credit unions for young members.

Working with community partners allows credit unions to connect through shared interests and experiences, which often builds trust between credit unions and a younger population.

“In my experience, students, especially at the college level, seek to align themselves with organizations that have their best interests at heart. This can manifest itself in many ways, from working with scholarship students or through internship opportunities , to areas of community involvement or charity giving,” Carver said. “As our efforts align with theirs, it not only helps pique their interest, but also creates greater loyalty to Mountain America. .”

Similarly, Clearview Federal Credit Union, based in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, also reaches students through community partners. “We are the official credit union for University of Pittsburgh Athletics and Robert Morris University Athletics, and those partnerships are dear to us here. In addition to Zogo and the other financial education we offer, student members have the opportunity to apply for one of ten scholarships we offer at $1,500 each, and they are awarded annually,” said Lisa Florian, Vice President Principal, Member Experience, Digital Strategy and Marketing at Clearview Federal Credit Union.

One factor that may make banks more attractive than credit unions to younger audiences is their digital presence, but many credit unions are launching online platforms to make their services and financial information more accessible. Zogo is an example of credit unions’ efforts to educate online: the app partners with more than 200 financial institutions, many of them credit unions, to promote financial education and disseminate information on how to manage money. “It’s a fun app that makes financial literacy very accessible to students,” Florian said.

Maine State Credit Union is also turning to digital to appeal to teens. “We’re trying a new model that emphasizes technology and digital options to appeal to a younger demographic,” said Ariel Carron, digital marketing specialist at the Augusta, Maine-based credit union.

In addition to learning financial information online and through apps, teens also pick up much of their financial knowledge from their parents, which is why connecting with parents is an important part of attracting students.

“We approach students and teens in a different way to be relevant to both the student and their parents,” said Jake Hall, director of marketing strategies and analytics at America First Credit Union.

“With students reaching out to their parents, we try to speak to both parents and students, which is extremely important in letting parents know that we have the education available for their children,” Florian said.

The friendlier nature of credit unions is also something that many highlight in their recruitment of new members. “You get a more personal connection. It’s Mainers serving Mainers. We’re growing, we’re expanding, we’re focusing on the local demographics, the personal, and the community,” Carron said. “The focus on community, the focus on technology, and the personal connection is definitely something that would help and appeal to a younger demographic.”

Partly because of this personalization of the banking experience, many credit unions have high member retention rates and satisfaction scores. “It is often said that once you are a member of Clearview, you are a member for life. Over 40% of our members have kept us as a financial institution for 10 years or more,” said Florian.

Although students make up only a fraction of credit union membership, attracting students is an investment in the institutions’ future, leaders say.

“By targeting students at a young age, we’re creating relationships that have the potential to last a lifetime,” Hall said. “We give them the tools to start their financial journey on the right foot.”

“[Students] reflect not only future members, savers and borrowers, but also potential employees and the future of our country’s economy. We build trust when we help young people adopt healthy, responsible habits with their finances early on,” Carver said. “By continuing to serve them as the different stages of life present themselves, they will become life members.

Leslie M. Gill