How One CU Is In Touch With Young Adults

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PLANO, Texas — Facebook, Google, microsites and mobile banking are helping to attract younger members in droves to InTouch CU here.

The $850-million CU is seeing nearly 19% annualized membership growth among 18- to 34-year-olds in 2010 after months of intensive research to find out what younger members want, said Diane Gerstner, EVP at InTouch.

In 2009, the number of younger members grew by nearly 30%. In contrast, overall annualized growth at the 72,000-member CU is 6%, said Gerstner.

"Facebook Ads and Google AdWords have been two of the most successful ways for us to open new accounts with younger members," she said. Click-through stats indicate that younger members are joining InTouch via Facebook and Google.

The CU's microsite for 25- to 35-year-olds is another beacon, Gerstner suggested. Called "The Arrival Guide," the site offers lifestage financial advice and is the result of "a conscious decision to go after 18- to 34-year-olds," she said.

Focus groups helped InTouch target the demographic, Gerstner explained. "We sat behind that one-way glass, and boy, did we get an education."

Younger members said they wanted products and services that would make life easier and enable "split-second" banking, Gerstner said. InTouch responded with mobile banking, online account enrollment, online loan applications and transaction alerts delivered to mobile devices.

Next year, Facebook users will be able to perform InTouch mobile banking transactions from within their Facebook page using a built-in application, she said.

P2P Coming Soon

Soon, members will be able to make person-to-person (P2P) payments at a cost of approximately 50 cents to 75 cents per transaction, she said. "When this demographic gets together for dinner, and a friend picks up the tab, everyone else can log onto mobile banking and use P2P to automatically send credit to the friend's account to settle the bill for their share."

P2P will save money for InTouch, Gerstner added. "The payment process is much more automated than our current online ACH form and will eliminate the need for our accounting department to process ACH transactions."

The credit union processes about 1,200 outgoing ACH originations per month, she said.

"We want to provide younger members with one-click access to their financial information, wherever they are," said Gerstner. "They don't want their texting and conversations delayed by banking activity."

Credit unions struggle to communicate with younger people, Gerstner continued. "The biggest change you have to make is that you have to be more casual. You need to be willing to do some things outside of the conservative norm that we apply to financial institutions. You need to deliver your message in five words or less and give them something customized that they want to look at."

Revealing Research

Research revealed that InTouch needed to treat the 18- to 24-year-old demographic differently from the 25- to 34-year-old group, Gerstner said. "Everyone lumps those groups together, which can be problematic as their wants and needs differ significantly."

Whereas the 25- to 34-year-olds get a lifestyle microsite, the 18- to 24-year-olds can access "On My Own," a lifestage newsletter online. The associated "OMO" checking for members ages 18 to 24 includes free song downloads, dividends, a credit card and a new car loan.

InTouch makes concerted efforts to show off its custom products at local universities and among younger new hires at SEGs, said Gerstner.

Approximately 16% of the membership is between ages 18 to 34.

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