A recent article in the Credit Union Journal titled “Strategic Planning: In Search of the Fountain of Youth” reports that a host of credit union leaders have an increased sense of urgency to reach millennials—before it is too late.

For example, Michael Wishnow, SVP of communications and marketing for the Pennsylvania CU League said: “It’s urgent that credit unions enact strategies now to attract the next generation of members. One way they can do that is by modernizing delivery channels and spending money to ensure that the institution has the member-facing technology necessary to keep it relevant with younger consumers—a demographic that’s rapidly growing and that continues to demand increasingly sophisticated technology from financial institutions.”

Wishnow and his fellow credit union leaders are correct. Millennials are now surpassing baby boomers as the largest demographic in the U.S., which translates to a transfer of wealth estimated at $300 trillion. This presents a tremendous opportunity for credit unions to provide this generation with prompt and highly personalized customer service in a modern way as millennials are reaching the stage of life where they are making major purchasing and financial planning decisions (e.g., mortgages and retirement savings).

A recent Q2 2016 Engageware banking consumer survey reveals that 75 percent of millennials are willing to book an appointment for an in-branch meeting with a mortgage specialist or wealth management advisor. So while millennials are a generation that has embraced sharing models such as Airbnb and Uber, they still want personal, face-to-face conversations when it comes to major financial decisions.

However, there is a disconnect between credit unions and millennials according to Karen Houston-Johnson, vice president of OnBalance, a credit union strategic consultancy. She pointed to research from CUNA and Cornerstone which indicates that 71 percent of millennials are unfamiliar with credit unions, and she points out that credit unions need to lead the conversation with this demographic by emphasizing the positive differentiators of credit union membership. These include: member ownership, which means credit unions don’t have obligations to outside investors; lower fees and higher interest rates on deposits; lower interest rates on loans; and a commitment to their communities.

Ultimately, to win business from millennials, credit unions must market themselves effectively to this increasingly powerful generation. But equally important, they must use the technologies preferred by millennials—online and mobile—to bring them into the branch for personalized conversations that drive business. Online appointment scheduling is an important way credit unions can attract millennial members so they can meet their financial needs today—and for many years to come.

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