With Millennials spanning two decades of age, it’s almost impossible to describe them as a homogenous group, but there is one thing almost all Millennials have in common — debt, and a lot of it.
Millennials in the U.S. are burdened not only by student loans and skyrocketing rent, but by the $17 trillion debt the U.S. government is carrying. In their world, financial wellness seems like a far-off fantasy land. This presents an enormous opportunity for credit unions, if credit unions will just change they way they market to Millennials.
Using low interest rates to market to Millennials won’t work, nor will other traditional methods. Millennials may not have had the opportunity to build a credit score high enough to qualify for your loans, and there are plenty of non-traditional lenders in the marketplace vying for this generation’s borrowing. What’s more, with the economy Millennials were raised in, many of them are more focused on living a rich life rather than a life of riches, as may have been a goal of their parents’ generation. For example, many Millennials prefer employment that provides work-life balance over a job that pays well but requires lots of overtime.
Since traditional means and measures of success don’t apply here, credit unions have to start innovating. One stellar example is what Shawn Gilfedder has done at McGraw-Hill FCU. Instead of hawking free checking accounts and low interest rates, McGraw-Hill leads with financial wellness. Credit unions have long offered lackluster financial wellness programs to employers in a way that makes most people ignore them –– they’re not user-friendly, there’s no onboarding process, and they simply exist in the background. Shawn recognized that an improved quality of life thanks to financial wellness is a valuable offering, and it doesn’t need to be a freemium product.
Because subpar financial wellness programs have become routine, the key is to get people engaged and help them realize the value of the benefits offered by their employer. McGraw-Hill FCU does this by effectively becoming an extension of a company’s HR, so when an employee needs help in this area, someone from McGraw-Hill is available as a trusted resource to answer questions –– and HR administrators don’t have to struggle through questions they probably wouldn’t have answers to.
An added bonus McGraw-Hill found in starting this program is that 70% of participants had no affiliation to the credit union –– and helping people achieve financial wellness is a much better engagement with potential members than a sign advertising free checking accounts.
Many Millennials feel that financial wellness is out of reach, or they simply feel too distant from their financial futures to be attracted to financial planning programs. However, if the context of financial wellness is framed in terms of understanding how they can live well both today and tomorrow, it resonates much more strongly. At the end of the day, Millennials and credit unions have the same mission: it’s not about numbers, it’s about a better life.