When it comes to your senior members, they have “needs”, they have “resources” and, important to your future growth, they have “influence.” I recently wrote for CUInsight about the “gold” to be found by helping members who are in their “golden years.” Let’s continue the conversation on how your “golden members” can also help you.
Senior members have both traditional and evolving financial needs. As I enter this demographic, I am coming to understand both the concerns that come with the move to retirement and the need for different financial advice and services from my financial service providers; but I’m also reminded that my affinity for credit unions is strong, and I continue promoting them to my family and friends. I suspect I’m not alone. And it’s this circumstance that presents opportunity to your credit union to grow, and to grow younger. It’s an opportunity in which credit unions are uniquely qualified to mine. The “gold” to be mined in your well-built relationships with your senior members’ is found in their role as grandparents funding and shepherding the early years and the early “financial teaching” years of their grandchildren, your future members.
While we can’t know the size of the eventual wealth transfer, there will be a good deal of money moving to the children and grandchildren of Baby Boomers. But you can help your members do more. Your senior members are looking for ways, and means, to help their grandchildren with financial goal setting and attainment, and not just looking to “leave them money.” They want to engage now, make a difference now.
As stated in “There’s Gold In the Golden Years”, helping your senior members help their families can lead to them helping you. “For example, grandparents may be basking in joy at the news of a new grandchild. In today’s digital world, grandma may be hopping onto the internet to research baby strollers, baby clothes, and oh, perhaps setting up an account to start saving for that college education. The old static way is to offer that account and stop there. Today’s dynamic way calls for monthly or quarterly content for the grandparents about helping a child develop responsible money habits. Such content may be useful in teaching their grandchild as it grows. For example, grandpa wants to teach his teenage granddaughter how debit and credit cards work before she heads to college. So, he introduces his credit union to his granddaughter and establishes a joint bank account with a joint debit or credit card. His credit union then sends him content targeted to responsibly using debit and credit cards, and he shares it with his granddaughter, who has her sights on college and freedom!”
Too Cute to Fail. Grandparents don’t just help their grandchildren with their earliest needs. They often prove to be the best source of support later in life as well. They can be there in times of trouble or to help build college tuition funds. When times get tough, kids often have their grandparents. And with that help comes “influence”, the ability to both inform and to guide.
People of all ages are hesitant to offer advice, even when providing financial support, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to — they just need a better way. For grandparents, steering their grandchildren to you, their credit union, for service and advice is an easier path to provide support. It’s a proactive stance that transcends the emotional concerns that color so many financial conversations. So, take advantage of your well-earned relationships with your senior members. Provide not just support for their direct needs but for their desires to support their grandchildren’s early and on-going financial needs.
Grandparents’ As Financial Educators. Many of you already work to deliver financial education and advice; so why not include your senior members in the effort? One needs to look no further than the habits of many grandparents for great financial advice. They have lifetimes of decisions that inform their financial choices, and much of what they believe and would share mirrors the fundamental precepts of quality financial education, including:
- Be careful with credit, only take on debt you can afford,
- Learn practical skills to “do it yourself” and save money,
- Take care of what you own, so you don’t have to buy it again, or soon, and
- Understand that rainy days will come, and one must save for them.
By promoting a program to aid your senior members in this effort, you can give them the action-oriented tools, financial products, and information to succeed at both wealth sharing and advice giving. You can give them the opportunity to be financial educators and the ability to do it, including web and mobile banking applications purpose built for this opportunity.
Where to find help? When starting a partnership with your senior members, you need not start from scratch. Within the senior services field one can find experienced “lifestyle” consultants and providers who know this demographic and how best to serve them. Need a place to start? I’m happy to help.
So, look to take advantage of this well-earned opportunity to grow your membership while lowering its average age. Partner with your senior members to devise services and programs that both support them and promote their desire to help their grandchildren. Credit union people know how to do this. We have the skills, the mission, and the opportunity. And with success we will capture new members who came to our credit unions via deep family ties.