Digital banking not enough to retain credit union members: Study

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For more than a decade, credit unions have touted mobile and online banking and nationwide shared ATM networks as ways to retain members even after consumers have moved out of the market that the institution serves.

A new study tosses cold water on some of those assumptions.

Access Softek released a report in June that showed 60% of poll respondents did not bank at the same credit union as their parents. Follow-up research released this week was aimed at digging deeper and finding out why.

According to the new study, more than 55% of consumers who don’t bank at their parents’ credit union say it’s because they have moved away. Just over 42% of respondents said they don’t know where their adult children bank, while only 6.3% said their kids use a credit union, compared with just over 40% who said their children use a bank.

The 2019 American Consumer Satisfaction Index showed banks topping credit unions for the first time in 11 years, indicating that banks have upped their game when it comes to service and customers’ negative attitudes toward banks — and big banks in particular — are a thing of the past.

When asked what it would take for adult children to open an account at their parents’ credit union, more than 46% of respondents — the most widely selected answer by a margin of about 25 points — was simply, “They would never do it.” Nearly 21% said the credit union would need to improve its online and mobile banking services to make them consider it.

Parents were also mixed on whether they even wanted their children to join their credit union.

“The fact that 90% of parents do not care or do not want their children to have accounts at their credit union shows a lack of familial affinity toward" the institution, Chris Doner, founder and CEO of Access Softek, said in a press release. “There needs to be a more open dialogue about finance in the family, even when children have grown up. Credit unions must have a 'friends and family' set of features in their digital offering to maintain the family connections throughout their membership.”

Doner advised CUs to treat families as a single financial unit and look more closely at family wallet share.

“Currently, there are little-to-no programs or incentives for families that bank together,” he said. “This is a huge opportunity that many institutions are missing out on.”

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