Millennials: No car, no house, no credit union income?

My youngest son sort-of-hates cars. Sure, Grandma’s-hand-me-down-Buick helps him get around town when he comes back to visit family. But that’s also a big reason why he plans to always live in a city with a decent mass transit system. He doesn’t want to own any car, or make monthly payments for it, much less pay for the gas, insurance, and upkeep.

He also doesn’t plan to ever buy a house. Doesn’t want to mow a yard. Or paint. Or mulch. Or take out a dozen dead ash trees. Or replace siding that has been the target of woodpecker attacks. He has seen his Dad handle all these and more over the last few years and wonders out loud why anyone sane would want to take on all that work. (His Dad is wondering the same thing.)

It’s not that he’s a slacker or a bum. He’s a millennial.

He, like many others of his generation, sees life as being less about “things” and more about living a rewarding and fulfilling life. He has two Bachelor degrees, gave up a good (but somewhat boring) job to go teach in China, and has recently been accepted to Australia National University with the goal of getting his Masters in Linguistics. Based on his intentions to “see the world”, I would be surprised to see him settle down in one city, at least for a few more years. His friends seem to think along the same lines.

Now, whenever I am asked by clients about how to reach the millennials, how to bring them in as the next wave of members to keep the credit union alive and thriving, I think of my son and his friends. I start to wonder why a credit union would choose to target him as a member if he isn’t ever going to take out a car loan or mortgage.

Then I relax and remember that most credit unions don’t think like banks.

Because millennials bring tons of opportunities. They’re productive, passionate, and smart as hell. They are valuable members to have.

You just have to be ready to adapt to the world citizen of the future.

Every modern citizen, for example, needs a credit card. What tools can you give them for managing their money? Can you handle direct deposits from China? How good are you at handling international wire transfers?

Would some of them use a concierge service? What about a service where the CU has power of attorney to handle certain things for the member while they are out of the country?

Car sharing and leasing services are going to grow in the future — what financial tools might be needed for this? (And why don’t more CUs offer ANY sort of lease alternatives?) Can you set up the lease and have a new electric car waiting at the airport for a high-income young software developer with no permanent US address arriving from China next Tuesday?

Can you handle a person who has no fixed address? How do you handle a family with addresses in three countries? At what point do you need 24 hour staff to cover all global time zones?

Closer to home, there’s a massive student loan crisis looming. Same for health care. What are you doing about it? What are your young members doing about it, and how can you help?

Money is going to continue to make the world go around for the foreseeable future, but it’s going to look a lot different. Car loans and mortgages, much like checking accounts, may be starting to fade away. Whether this is an opportunity or a disaster depends entirely on your CU’s response.

Kent Dicken

Kent Dicken

Kent is CEO / Founder of iDiz, a full-service agency focused on Branding, Websites, and Big Ideas for credit unions that want to grow. He is also one of the authors ... Web: Details