In Search of Gen Y

Many CUs find it difficult to attract this elusive age group.

December 30, 2011
KEYWORDS banking , mobile , online , young
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

Seeds for success

Reaching Gen Y starts well before high school graduation for $82 million asset Arapahoe Credit Union, Centennial, Colo. Arapahoe sows its “Seeds for Success” financial
education program in public schools and then reaps the results with—products for Gen Y members ages 18 to 34.

More than 7,000 students participated in classroom workshops and presentations on personal finance topics during the 2010-2011 school year in seven school districts, says Julie McLean, director of financial education.

Arapahoe offers youth accounts for children up to age 12. Teen checking accounts with debit cards are available with a parent’s signature at age 14 and with only the teen’s
signature at age 16.

At age 18, even young adults who lack a credit history can get a car loan through using a program that requires borrowers with no credit or poor credit to have a GPS tracking device attached to the car. The device can be triggered remotely to prevent ignition if the member fails to make timely payments.

Gen Y membership is on the rise“Instead of dinging their credit, we teach them to make their payments on time,” McLean says.

Presentations to young adults and their parents often focus on technology to teach them to use products such as online banking, bill payment, and mobile banking. Wallet cards distributed at these events offer shortcuts for text banking.

Personal resource

McLean ends all educational events by emphasizing that she is a personal resource for young members. Business cards and other materials offer McLean’s contact information so young members can reach her at any time.

Those calls sometimes come two to three years after McLean makes a presentation. A young man who left college when he became a father called to thank the credit union for providing financial information that made a difference in his life years later. A teen who planned to drop out of high school called to say she changed her mind after participating in a workshop on the cost of rent and living expenses.

Building trust with Gen Y and then backing it with personal experiences is crucial, McLean says.

“They have to feel you’re a trusted resource,” McLean says. “Once you gain that, they’re your members forever.”


CUNA’s 2011-2012 reports:

  1. Credit Union Environmental Scan
  2. National Member Survey
  3. Survey of Potential Members

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive