Dec 15 2014

The Gen Y Imperative: Six Lessons for Australian Mutuals

As the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have moved through each decade of their lives, they’ve shaped the economic, political, and social landscape. As the boomers’ Gen Y children (born somewhere between 1980 and the mid-1990s) continue their own world-shaping journey, marketers are well aware that they “ain’t seen nothing yet” in terms of marketplace opportunity. Gen Y’s income is currently expected to exceed that of baby boomers by 2015 and the combined incomes of baby boomers and Gen X (born between roughly 1965 and 1980) just five years later.

The need to connect with this generation is especially critical for credit unions, both in the United States and in Australia. In Australia, the average member age is 51.5—versus 42.5 at traditional banks. And this doesn’t begin to consider that traditional banks may not be the competitive force the system needs to worry most about. In recent years there’s been an explosion in alternative financial services, both the traditional, such as payday lenders, and new options like online-only banks. And Gen Y has shown itself to be highly amenable to embracing them.

In this report, the Filene Research Institute worked with the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) over the past year to synthesize the challenges faced by mutual financial institutions in North America and Australia. Here we offer exploration and recommendations about how to best connect with the Gen Y population and attract them to Australian mutual financial institutions. 

Gen Yers are in debt and struggling with their finances. They love mobile, online channels, and social media; they’re tech-savvy but not ready to give up the branch; and they’re not very loyal, but switching financial institutions is hard. The best way to attract them is to get to know them better. 

Filene thanks our generous supporters for making this research possible. 

Report Number 350