|By O'Malley, Chris|
Most bankers already know that this generation, born between roughly 1980 and 2000, is tech-savvy. Thus, banks have spent billions on online banking products, and millennials like Branch have noticed.
"The ease of doing my day-to-day banking via the [bank's] app on my iPhone is very pleasing to me," said Branch, of Scheetz Century 21.
But it's not as simple as just rolling out new technology.
Various studies and surveys show millennials often distrust banks and represent a higher portion of the unbanked population.
The creative agency Scratch, a unit of
Millennials are more likely to use non-traditional banking products such as preloaded debit cards issued by retailers, and they often research financial products more intensively than older-consumers.
And while millennials don't hang out in branches, as did their elders, and may even open accounts online, they still expect a good experience when they do have face-to-face encounters at the branch.
It might be tempting for banks to just ignore millennials at the moment. After all, that bigger generation known as the baby boomers is at its peak earnings potential and ripe for buying lucrative wealth-management products and services.
Boomers earn trillions of dollars annually. Adolescents and young adults earn an estimated
But by 2018, millennials' annual earnings could soar to
"It means that the banks need to be more innovative to attract customers," said
"The millennial generation is an interesting one. They actually are creating the trends, in a sense, that businesses are trying to follow."
And one trend popularized and demanded by the generation is an obsession with connectivity.
Some 96 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds polled this year for
That's a greater percentage than those who considered a toothbrush indispensable (93 percent) and - hold your nose - more than those who considered deodorant important (90 percent).
So it follows that this attachment to mobile devices has raised millennials' expectations from their banks. That ranges from online banking to depositing checks via the cell phone to text-based alerts about fund balances.
The BOA study also found four in five millennials use mobile banking apps to access their accounts at least once a week. Most times (81 percent) they did so to check balances, followed by transferring money (49 percent) and to pay bills (48 percent).
"They leverage the technology better. They also demand it," said
But as 20-year-old IUPUI student
About 10 months ago, the computer sciences major formed a business that buys and refurbishes broken mobile phones. McMullen also buys popular electronic products from
"My previous bank was not very helpful when I started to get into international trade," said McMullen, who recently hit
McMullen said he transferred his account to Fifth Third, where a banker took him seriously enough to show him how to make direct international wire transfers. The bank also had an app robust enough to let him handle his key transactions via the smartphone.
"When I need to stock units for my
Prone to research
Financial institutions need more than electronic capabilities and products aimed at millennials, said
"We have found that, even though they are very much a connected generation, specifically those under age 27, just having advanced technology offerings doesn't guarantee success in attracting them. An unusual characteristic is that, when first opening an account, millennials are more likely to research online and open [the account] in person."
As such, "it's important to have useful information on your website so that the research is meaningful to them. The decision on where to open might be made online first, even if the account is opened face-to-face," Mattingly said.
And follow it through by establishing a relationship with the young customer, said Fifth Third's Tierney. "Remember, they're getting information all the time, what with
Information is important because many millennials aren't as familiar with banks as their parents. And some research has shown millennials don't trust bankers.
The Great Recession and financial crisis is one reason for the distrust. But, according to the CFI, many young consumers just aren't that familiar with the workings of a bank. One reason: Their parents were less likely to step inside a bank in an era of Web banking and ATMs.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that some millennials are bypassing banks altogether.
A number of big-box retailers, such as
Some of the younger generation got their first taste for these non-bank products when they went away to college.
Many universities now offer a student ID card that incorporates a debit card feature. At
It's no wonder many studies show, that millennials make up a larger portion of the so-called unbanked population.
"There's no doubt. ... Millennials don't trust necessarily traditional ways of doing business," said BMO's Leising. "There's a lot of competition there [for millennials] in traditional and non-traditional banking."
So some banks are now even offering their own pre-paid cards.
For those who do open a traditional banking account, First Financial also recently started offering instant-issue debit cards, given that some customers don't like waiting a week or so for their cards to arrive by mail. One can also open an account online, rather than stepping into a branch.
Other recent offerings aimed particularly at millennials include slick online dashboards that allow customers to track not only their accounts within the bank but virtually any other account, including student loan balances and airline miles.
"It's this type of evolution that millennials are demanding," said Langford of First Financial. "That generation being more electronically and technically inclined, we find they're drawn with less inertia to going with a [traditional] bank."
Banks need also to stay attuned to other things in addition to technology. Studies show millennials expect more transparency and authenticity - everything from greater disclosure of loan terms to how the bank interacts with the community.
Fifth Third's Tierney said millennials are often sensitive to community causes. One of Fifth Third's outreaches in that regard is its offer to donate money on behalf of customers through the Stand up
It also turns out that old-fashioned customer service appeals to the generation.
Branch said one reason he's stayed at Fifth Third the last 11 years is that he can walk into a bank office "that really makes you feel as though they are connected to you. And that takes away some of my trepidations about banking. They always remember who I am and they seem very genuine."
What millennials want from financial institutions
To easily open accounts online. Millennials are twice as likely to do so than other age groups.
With smartphones in hand, robust Internet banking and bill-paying.
Lots of ATMs, and they'd better be surcharge-free.
Online personal financial management platforms. They want to see balances from all their financial institutions - sometimes even student loan balances - on one big dashboard.
Digital alerts. They want to know of low balances and upcoming bills via email and SMS.
Prepaid cards. With their finances sometimes still managed by parents, prepaid cards are one way of forced spending discipline at college. Banks can get in on the act with their own custom-branded cards and administrative support.
Millennials by the numbers
Also known as Generation Y, the financially emerging demographic represents those born roughly from 1980 to 2000. And they can be tough nuts to crack for traditional financial institutions:
80 million millennials in
22% say they'll never open a bank account
67% say they won't invest in stocks
45% say they won't buy insurance
17% would turn to a bank first for a loan of
25% found visit to bank or credit union not or somewhat unpleasant
39% unlikely to return to the financial institution
|Copyright:||(c) 2014 IBJ Corporation|