Reaching the millennial generation through financial education

I recently read a post by fellow Community blogger, Bryan Clagett, asking the question, “What does financial education really mean?” I thought it would be an opportune follow-up to address the very same question as viewed by my generation, the Millennials.

Just last year, articles noted how financially ill-prepared we were and now the tables have turned with data reflecting our real attitudes towards savings, spending and retirement. According to Time magazine, “70 percent of millennials started saving for retirement at an unprecedented young age of just 22 years old. By contrast, the average boomer began saving at age 35, while Gen X’ers got started at 27.”

We grew up from one economic crisis to another and also the war against terror. These environmental factors shaped our values around living richer lives that include sound financial management. We are aware of the importance of saving money and the impact of debt. We are loyal to brands that are experts in their field, transparent and offer solutions in line with our values.

Tom White, CEO of iQuantifi a platform targeting millennials and provides a virtual financial advisor, echoed my sentiments about my generation. He states that “the past economic crisis and current debt burden are causing this generation to focus more on their finances and how to achieve financial goals much earlier than previous generations.”

Our openness and willingness to share what matters in our lives has broken the social taboo around money. We’ve become comfortable discussing our finances and money issues within our social circle.

Credit unions face a difficult challenge.

We grew up in the search engine world and matured through the social media revolution. We search to verify and use social for proof.  These channels help us make just-in-time financial decisions.

The unfortunate reality I’ve seen is the lack of dynamic content on credit union websites to help millennials make financial decisions just-in-time. Credit unions are using financial education as preventative measures or in some cases only after a member has reached financial distress. The unintended result is that existing members and potential members are seeking knowledge elsewhere.

A recent conversation with a credit union member revealed his evaluation process to determine the right credit card. His go-to-place was Google search and a Facebook post. He stated the information found on his credit union website wasn’t informative enough to make a conscious decision. It listed interest rates and features however he couldn’t connect how beneficial the credit card would be to achieving his financial goals.

For us, financial education means freedom to pursue passions and the ability to retire sooner. We’re actively and passively seeking financial knowledge and we want to give our business to topical experts and those willing to share. We are in fact the sharing generation.

Are you sharing your financial expertise through education?

If you’ve tried searching for answers to financial questions, it’s rare to find credit union information on the first page of search results. Have search engine algorithms decided credit union information is not authoritative or helpful? In fact, you’re more likely to get results from personal finance bloggers or websites who are mastering educational content with just-in-time financial recommendations.

The good news is that there is an opportunity for credit unions to benefit from Millennial habits. It starts with fundamentally ingraining financial education into the products offered and the services given.

Traditional banking products are commoditized and as more technology startups enter the industry competition will continue to heat up. Startups have the very same issues facing credit unions, the need to effectively educate their customers to continue to come back time after time. Those who master how to help millennials make better-informed decisions will win.

Are you ready to shift the strategy on financial education?

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a former credit union executive and founder of the personal finance website He’s a bestselling and New York Times-reviewed author with a second book ... Web: Details