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23Jul

Studying Gen Z banking - from my living room

With 2 Gen Zs in my house, I'm really taking the opportunity to study who this generation is first-hand. My oldest recently got his first checking account. He doesn't need to write checks but he needs a debit card. In fact, he'll probably never write a check in his life.

He's 16, with his first job where he gets a paper check every two weeks. I'm actually glad he doesn't have direct deposit because he needs to understand the relationship between earning and spending more tangibly.

As someone who is pretty plugged-in to digital banking trends, I tend to forget that this "digital native" doesn't know this stuff by some form of osmosis. I had to teach him about the CU's mobile app, remote deposit capture and ATMs. And this weekend, I had to teach him how to buy tickets online.

We see these older Gen Zs and the millennials using this tech but we forget that someone had to introduce, explain and teach it. I'm happy to teach the young people in my sphere of influence, but financial institutions should see that as an opportunity to connect with these future members and seize the day.  

A couple words of insight from this side of the desk:

1) Your in-branch on-boarding process probably takes too long (mine was two hours). By the time you're done, they're not interested in staying around to have you talk them through all the important things they need to know about being a first-time user of your digital platform.

2) Even if it doesn't take too long, have your employees been trained on how to equip these new members of your community? Do you have your own digital native whose job it is connect with these young people and get them engaged in your digital culture.

3) Do you have a digital culture? My experience was 95% paper-based. The digital app, that we just assumed they had and downloaded for ourselves without advice from the staff, does what we need but he has no idea what other tools and services they might have. Mostly because my digital native doesn't do email. Hear that carefully, marketing team. My 16 year old has no interest in email so you can't market to him that way. How are you going to reach him? He doesn't open paper or electronic statements either. He checks his balance. He deposits his checks. Period. How are you using your mobile app's most basic features to market to these people? Hint, it shouldn't be a banner ad.

A streamlined process, especially for setting up accounts for minors, means more time and attention to focus on educating them and converting them to citizens of your digital community. Know where they are socially because they're not on Facebook or reading your email. Mine doesn't even care about Twitter. That's going to be a tough pill for a lot of organizations to swallow because you've finally mainstreamed those channels. They are on Instagram and SnapChat. You may be able to text them. They watch YouTube videos, not TV. They follow Twitch streamers and hate when Hulu shows them TV commercials (if they even bother with Hulu anymore). They rarely get mail that is not an online order being delivered. They are certainly going to discard your bulk mailers.

So it's time to update the marketing plan for Gen Z, before you look up and find they've grown up and left you behind.

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