Must-Have Banking Experiences for Millennials

With the coming of age of millennials, the financial industry faces the rise of a generation shaped by technology in a way no other has been. Now 18 to 34 years old and 73 million strong, the millennials already make up the largest group in the workplace, and their dominance will grow. The challenges of serving them will occupy the banking industry over the next decade and beyond.

Here are the banking experiences that research says to focus on now, and the technology that credit unions need to offer to remain viable to their next generation of members.

Online and mobile are king

Millennials are attached to their smartphones and like to access services whenever and wherever they want. In a recent survey of young adults, 60% said that they use mobile apps for day-to-day banking transactions. That underlines the need for credit unions to make sure that all of the routine services — including check deposits — are available on mobile devices. At the same time, 92% of those queried said they routinely go online to do everyday transactions. That means it’s essential that a credit union’s online offerings are also robust if it’s going to compete for a generation that expects to be able to conduct business when and how it wants.

Convenience and speed

Millennials expect information with the touch of Google and purchases at the speed of Amazon. They want an online retail approach to banking: easy-to-find content, an excellent search engine and multiple points of contact including chat functions. If they don’t find it, they’ll just go elsewhere, so credit unions should make sure that the functionality of their websites and apps is intuitive, user-friendly and up-to-date.

Loyalty and fees

Millennials shop for banking services by looking for the best mobile tools and the lowest fees; brand loyalty runs a distant second to the best deals. They tend to hate monthly and ATM fees, and 7 of 12 would leave their current service provider for an account with no overdraft fees. A good marketing option for credit unions might be to tie into or create a network of no-fee ATMs, as millennials often are on the go and relocate frequently. Also, make account terms as transparent as possible and consider dropping fees.

Savings and investments

Many millennials are buried under student debt and struggling with career paths because of the recession. They want financial education as well as tools and services to help them create and monitor their budgets. They can be encouraged to save with no-hassle options such as automatic savings, but they are often risk-averse to investing. Credit unions can incorporate personal financial management tools into mobile banking such as those available through Northwest Credit Union Association partnerships. Also, consider working with top-rated money management mobile apps and those popular for investing such as Acorns to encourage customer savings and investment.


Millennials, more than any other recent generation, have a tendency to seek the opinions of others. They’re more likely to discover brand content on social networks than through search engines or email. Reaching consumers on social media should be a priority for credit unions, and NWCUA provides information for members about ways to engage with millennials. Keeping up with new social media platforms will be important.

The wave of young adults entering the economy has a different mindset and values than the generations that came before. As a result, they want to do business in a different way. Credit unions that understand millennials and adapt to suit their needs can catch the wave and ride it to be the best financial partner for this next generation of members.

By Terri Kaufman, NerdWallet

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

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