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Enough excuses. Your credit union absolutely, positively must connect with Generation Y – the YouTube-watching, Twitter-posting, iPad-buying cohort born somewhere between 1980 and 1992. For a lot of credit unions, this is a major, game-changing proposition.

But as Rob Rubin, founder and CEO of FindABetterBank, points out in this article, credit unions can’t afford to overlook the demands of Gen Y. “The average age of a credit union member is 47 – nearly 10 years older than the median age of people in the U.S.,” he writes. “This older average age means many of their members are past their prime borrowing years.”

Problem: Many credit unions either overlook or underestimate what it will take to win the Gen Y market. For instance, most people would agree that an online strategy is important. Yet, Rubin observes, “A lot of Web sites out there are trying to party like it’s 1999. That isn’t going to cut it.”

What does Generation Y want?

  • Full-service (really) online banking. Think online account applications, remote deposit capture and personal financial management tools.
  • Mobile applications. Consider the multiple public-service campaigns now aimed at getting people to stop texting while driving. Mobile banking is not a futuristic luxury. Adds Rubin: “You also need to ask yourself, ‘What kind of app are we providing?’ This market knows the difference between a good app and a mediocre one.”
  • Value. “The [Gen Y consumers] I spoke with were very conscious about rates and fees,” says Rubin.
  • Serious social media. “A lot of what’s out there is broadcasting – the communication only goes one way,” says Rubin. Gen Y uses social media as a legitimate means of communication. If your social media isn’t social, it won’t work.
  • Professional financial advice. According to this retail financial services study by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, Gen Y’s top concerns include debt reduction, expense management and financial education, and more than one-third of them prefer using professional advisers as their source for financial advice – great news for service-oriented credit unions.

But Cisco’s results also underscore Rubin’s advice: Cutting-edge delivery makes the difference. Forty percent of Gen Y respondents use PFM tools to manage their finances – and most got them from their financial institutions. Nearly 40 percent are interested in interacting with advisers via video chat; far from impersonal and off-putting, video chat was viewed as both intimate and on-demand. They were also four times more likely than their older counterparts to have posted a question about financial matters to a blog or online forum.

If you aren’t ready for the revolution, get ready. It’s already happening.