There’s no question that the future success of many, if not all, credit unions depends upon their ability to attract, serve, and retain Gen Y members. After all, there are over 90 million of them.

Even more important, they are entering the stage of life where people have historically turned to financial institutions for support in making major purchases and building their lives. That makes them the logical replacements for the aging memberships that dominate many credit unions around the country.

But there is a contrary perspective that merits discussion at your next planning session, not necessarily because it negates the importance of pursuing Gen Y, but because it reminds of the importance of continuing to serve those who are already committed and aligned with your credit union.

What if, instead of looking to retool everything and focus on attracting new members from a generation you don’t necessarily understand, you focused instead on deepening relationships with your aging members and adjusting your business model by adding products and services targeted to them…products and services that will produce returns and keep them actively engaged with the credit union.

If this sounds like an idea that is really out there, consider these facts about the future from Drew McLellan’s blog

  • By 2020, the number of people over the age of 65 worldwide will outnumber children under the age of 5 for the first time ever;
  • By 2020, 22% of western civilization will be over the age of 65; and
  • The ratio of workers to retirees will continue to fall in the future. Today it’s 3:1, but by 2030, it will be just over 2:1.

The bottom line is that there are multiple pathways that can lead to success for credit unions and while you can’t overlook the impacts of GEN Y and continue to look for ways to bring them in, there may be some other things that could/should be done to adjust your business model to meet the changing needs of the aging members who brought you the success you now have.

ACTION ADVICE: Add this topic to the agenda for this year’s planning session and engage in serious discussion about what you can do to change your business model to meet the needs of the aging demographic versus the emerging demographic. Discuss the product and service needs of this group and consider what your credit union can do to leverage their commitment to your organization to create new growth opportunities. The boomer generation is sandwiched between caring for aging parents and supporting their children…their financial needs are different than they were in the past, but even more important and pressing. It only makes sense for them to turn to their credit union for solutions–are you ready to provide them?

NOTE: According to Drew McLellan, the source of the demographic information shared above is an annual report that is produced by JWThompson.