By Mike Joplin, CEO, CU Lending Cooperative for
NACUSO Quarterly Review
How can we attract more millennials?
That’s a question most credit union CEOs are struggling with today. And if you spend more than a couple of minutes Googling, you’ll realize there are many, many answers to this question. They can’t all be right, can they?
What if I told you that’s not even the right question?
Imagine for a moment a master chef who decides to open a food truck. He spends his entire life’s savings on state-of-the-art equipment. He develops a magnificent menu. Then he parks his rolling five-star restaurant in front of his house and waits for customers to show up.
That seems to be the approach most credit unions take with millennials. They launch all the cool new products and services that millennials allegedly want. Then they wonder why their websites aren’t blowing up with activity.
In the meantime, GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and their disciples have figured out that millennials expect to be engaged on their terms. How else can you explain the proliferation of Apple Stores in upscale malls across the country? More to the point, how else can you explain the crowds of people who fill those Apple Stores on a daily basis.
Consider indirect auto lending. Say what you want about the financial merits of indirect lending, but there’s one thing nobody can deny. Indirect lending puts your credit union right where the consumer needs it, right when the consumer needs it.
This is exactly why we started Credit Union Lending Cooperative (CULC). The whole idea is to apply an
engage them on their terms approach to personal loans and in the process, grow deposits and membership. It’s a simple concept from the consumer perspective.
A consumer visits one of the many lending websites that are so popular among millennials. (Our initial launch is with Lending Tree, but we’ll be expanding that quickly.) Once the consumer applies for a personal loan, CULC qualifies the loan and then matches the consumer to one of our member credit unions for which that consumer qualifies as a member. The loan is approved within mere seconds and just like that, one of our credit unions has a new, highly desirable member.
When the loan funds, it funds into a share account at the credit union. The borrower can access the funds instantly by enrolling in online/mobile banking. Or they can wait a couple of days for their debit card. Now the credit union has a young new member then can grow a relationship with.
I’m not suggesting that CULC is the silver bullet for engaging millennials. The whole point is, there is no silver bullet. Millennial engagement requires a multi-faceted approach, but most important of all, it requires innovation.
Don’t let your credit union be the food truck that never goes anywhere. Put the pedal to the metal on innovation and your credit union will stay relevant for decades to come.
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Mike Joplin has over 35 years experience in commercial banking and consumer finance. As a founder, co-founder and CEO he has created and managed several successful companies and has founded two thrifts and an independent bank.