Don't Let Your CU Become Seniors' Club

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Either attract younger members now, or brace for a credit union that is an investment and savings club for senior citizens.

That message is at the heart of a new report that plainly states the inability to attract younger members to the credit union is a problem in the making. But more than just a critique, the report from the Filene Research Insitute called "Build Credit with Y" also provides strategies and case studies of credit unions that are attracting young adults with innovative lending and credit card programs.

The report, by Mark Meyer, Filene's director of innovation, notes that the average member is 47 years old and membership growth among all credit unions is stagnant, especially among younger members. In 2002, 18- to 24-year-olds (Generation Y) made up 10% of credit union membership. In 2004 that number dropped to 5%, according to CUNA. "Although some recognize the power of Gen Y, few credit unions have expanded their lending products or policies to serve this demographic. Credit unions are starting to get Gen Y in the door, but fail to offer starter lending products to meet their needs and lifestyle," states the report, which was published as part of Filene's "Cool Solutions" series.

According to Filene, the report offers up strategies and options on what credit unions need to do: create responsible credit building opportunities for Gen Y, including the first credit and debit cards, student loans and other gateway products (see related story, page 4).

This report also provides a summary of actionable research findings from Filene and other organizations as well as advice on how to implement these ideas, it said.

Meyer will be the keynote speaker at The Credit Union Journal's Best Practices conference April 26-28 in Miami.

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