Credit Union Values

Is it important that the place where you bank share your values? This question has certainly become more relevant in recent years, and the fact that so many are asking it could explain why credit unions across the country have attracted so many new members since the financial crisis.

Author Jason Vitug (of Proogal fame) recently tackled questions of banking and values — how they are impacting the choices made by millennials.

In an article published in CU Insight titled Millennials: “Credit unions are irrelevant,” Vitug suggests that millennials simply do not understand the value offered by CUs. (See the article here ).

While on the Road to Financial Wellness road trip, (a series of 37 events across the country), Vitug talked about credit unions, and found that younger Americans were less moved by discussions about the practical differences between CUs and banks (loan rates, fees, etc.) and more likely to talk about the things that really mattered to them: values.

Here are some of the things that matter most to Millennials, according to Vitug:

Community. Millennials want to feel they belong and their participation is beneficial to themselves and others. Millennials value community relationships because there’s a desire to be connected with other like-minded people.

Social Mission. Profits are okay but social impact should be the top priority. Millennials who want a sense of community do so because it’s making a difference in their world. It’s not about supporting another social cause or a social responsibility statement. Millennials are seeking your core value meaning your mission in itself is for positive social impact.

Convenience. Millennials are seeking simpler ways to do things that do not take too much time. It’s about offering technology that helps perform tasks not replace human interaction. Millennials want technology but they’d like to know there’s a person if and when needed.

Expertise. Millennials are seeking experts in their respective fields who are in the game to help them succeed. A brand that is known to provide trustworthy and relevant advice will be rewarded with brand loyalty.”

What’s immediately apparent from these comments is that today’s young Americans are a different breed, and with good reason: they are the generation of the financial crisis, and the long recession.

They are Generation Debt and Disappointment, the kids who racked up six-figure obligations just getting a college degree – only to find that there were few jobs available once they graduated.

So, it’s not surprising that they want more from a banking institution that free checking and a fun mobile wallet. Sure, these things are important, but they are not enough.

The good news for credit unions is that they already meet the “values” criteria that millennials find important. As community-based, member-owned cooperatives, CUs are literally designed from a different values blueprint than commercial banks.

CUs embodied these values long before the recent financial crisis, or the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Vitug’s findings should offer hope to both credit unions, and millennials. Here we have the perfect match of a generation craving community-focused, social responsible banking and thousands of local financial institutions that have been providing these things for more than a century. The trick, of course, is bringing them together.

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