WASHINGTON (7/14/10)—Rob Rubin, the Huffington Post
creator of FindaBetterBank.com, a tool to drive consumers to find “the best-fit” credit union or bank for their checking needs, has some advice to credit unions. The Post
is behind the huge and hugely popular “Move Your Money Campaign,” which it began in January urging fed-up big bank customers—tired of high fees, run-arounds and bailouts--to put their money into credit unions or community banks. Rubin notes a concern, however, that credit unions are not doing enough with the opportunities the current climate is affording them for membership growth—at least not in the area of attracting young members. “The financial crisis and the attention given to the greed and hubris of big banks has created a window of opportunity for smaller institutions to win some customers - especially younger consumers who aren't heavily invested with a bank. But most credit unions are blowing it because they're not winning this younger set,” Rubin blogged this week. It’s a topic that comes up in credit union circles a lot—how to attract younger members, as well as younger officers in a work-world dominated by graying heads. In fact, at the Credit Union National Association’s “The 1 Conference” being held in Las Vegas this week, the topic is hot. For instance speaker Jim Collins, author of the best-selling book Good to Great: Why Some Coampanies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, called the challenge to attract young members one of the “brutal facts” that face credit unions today. Rattling through some Filene Institution 2005 study numbers that are quite well known in the credit unions movement, Rubin noted in his blog posting: Only 6% of credit union board members were under 40; more than 42% were over 60; and average age of a credit union member was 47, nearly 10 years older than the median age of people in the US. “This older average age means many of their members are past their prime borrowing years. Importantly, over 27% of the US population is under 20 (Source: US Census),” Rubin wrote. So what does Rubin suggest? Here’s his to-do list for credit unions, in his words:
* Make appealing to younger consumers a primary part of your mission -- even if it alienates some of your older members; * Update your websites (seriously, most are horrible): * Offer features that younger consumers want--for example, mobile banking, ATM fee rebates, remote deposit, expedited bill payment, online chat for customer service, online account opening; * Start "socializing" online. Yes, many credit unions have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, but most of those are used to broadcast information. Have 2-way conversations; and * Reach people who use the Internet to do research. People can be drawn to you from other online resources (like FindABetterBank ).
“Signing younger consumers up as members is essential for credit unions to survive. Therefore, failing to recognize that a coherent online strategy is mission-critical does not serve the long-term needs of your membership. That's my 2-cents, Rubin concludes.