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What is the average age of your membership? Around 48 if you’re anything like the national average.

What’s the average age of your borrower? Older? Most likely.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Bill Hampel’s economic forecast. It was bleak, as expected but one of the charts really surprised me. He predicts a sharp decline in loan-to-share ratios over the next few years. Now according to my math, they should start going up.

This year Generation Y outnumbers the Baby Boomer generation – the largest generation in American history. How can that be? Because the Boomers are dying. And those that haven’t died are paying their loans off – their borrowing years are behind them.

Generation Y on the other hand turns 28 this year, the youngest just got their driver’s permit (age 15). From buying their first car to their first home, we have 70 million opportunities to loan.

When the 75 million boomers were in their borrowing years life was good.

This is the “echo” of that boom.

Can you hear it?

This morning Nathan Capron, Marketing Specialist for UniWyo FCU posted the link to the Beloit College Mindset for the Class of 2014 on the CUNA Marketing Council ListServ. Nathan had a great intro to the piece:

“I think I read somewhere that attracting Gen Y was a hot topic for credit unions; has anyone else read that? (he adds that was intended to be sarcastic).

The intended audience are professors at Beloit. It’s to help them create relevant connections in the classroom. Nathan wisely sees the application in our marketing.

If we’re to lower the average age of a member from 48 to 47 (a lofty goal) we need to start thinking like a Beloit College professor.  I give you a glimpse of the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.

1. Since digital has always been in the cultural DNA, they’ve never written in cursive.

2. With cell phones to tell the time, there is no need for a wrist watch.

3. They will be armed with iPhones and Blackberries, on which making a phone call will be only one of the many many functions they will perform.

4. Email is just too slow and they seldom, if ever use snail mail.

5. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

6. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

7. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

Takeaway: If you’re still trying to lure new members with a free box of checks, and no mobile banking application, you’ll likely die of old age.


Got home late last night. House was so quiet I flicked on the TV for company. The Teen Choice Awardswere in full swing. At first it scared the hell out of me because as soon as the set clicked on there was only the sound of about a thousand girls screaming. I mean shrieking. ForJustin Bieber.

I was diving for the remote to change channels when I thought wait a minute….our goal is to youth-a-nize the credit union movement, lest we die of old age. I need to watch this. Relate to it somehow.

And then it happened, OMG that’s Kurt from Glee taking the stage  – I LOVE him! And he seems so relaxed and nice and well, Kurt like.  I decided right then and there that the Teen Choice Awards should be required viewing for anyone in marketing with the task of attracting the teen crowd.

Here are the results of my “study”

I can relate more to teens than I thought possible:

Choice Movie/Drama: The Blind Side (Academy Award winning actress Sandra Bullock)

Choice Actress/Movie: Tina Fey

Choice TV Show/Comedy: Glee

Big fans of all of the above. I have found common ground. Important aspect of the beginning of any relationship.

Things I must find a way to tolerate and embrace:

Choice TV Show/Drama: Gossip Girl (beating out Grey’s Anatomy and House)

Choice TV Actress/Comedy: Selena Gomez of Wizards of Waverly Place(never heard of her or her show – but she beat Lea Michele of Glee – what?)

Choice TV Reality Show: Keeping Up with the Kardashians (but at least it beat Jersey Shore)

Choice Movie/Fantasy: Anything Twilight Zone (which beat out everything Harry Potter)


It’s okay to like some of your teens favs, but don’t like them so much that you are caught carrying around a book, TiVoing it or hanging a poster of he/she in your bedroom. That’s a sure way to kill that teen connection.

Newer is better. They root for the underdog in that sense. When Zoe Saldana beats out Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams, Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Peet for choice actress in a Sci-Fi you have to wonder – who the hell is Zoe? You should know. But again, and I can’t emphasize this enough – don’t become a fan of hers on Facebook.

Their tastes are not typical and cannot easily be categorized. Choice music female artist nominees? Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Ke$ha, Shakira and Taylor Swift. Wow. Now you know what’s on their iPod.

They are the opposite of you in terms of sports. The athletes they choose to admire are from skateboarding (which is not a crime, btw) surfing, tennis and soccer. What? No baseball, football? That’s un-American!

No, that’s being a teen.

There, I said it. According to the urban dictionary  balls = courage or bravery.

I logged on to my credit union website tonight (to check my balance) and there it was. Right on the home page. Loud and proud.

A Point West workshop: Women in Transition: After Divorce.

This small credit union gets it. Target audience. Differentiation. Cause.

Does your credit union have the balls?

Last night as I drove I-25 north to Cochiti Lake from the Albuquerque Sunport into a massive thunderstorm, I had time to think about the last 6 days.

My journey began with Mark’s family reunion. About 60 Sadowskis gathered at Lake Sammamish Park where just one week prior there was a gunfight and two men were killed. Cops came by our picnic area and told us we had to take down the Sadowski Family Reunion banner (complete with family crest) because it could look like a gang symbol. At some level we were a gang – or a group with a common bond – but we just wanted to eat our weight in polish sausage – not kill anyone.  A sign of the times I guess.

The next day we hung out with Mark’s 13 nieces and nephews in a giant house we rented in Seattle. We brought our Wii. The living room became the center of activity. Non-stop for the next 24 hours these kids took turns playing tennis, baseball, and of course we bowled. Mark’s nephew Joey looked at me and said “I’m so glad you guys brought this game – can you imagine what we’d be doing without it?” Indeed. Talk? Go for a walk? Play cards?  A sign of the times.

Sunday Mark and I spent the entire day cleaning up the yard of our Seattle rental house. It’s time to sell it. If you want a house that doesn’t have hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, we have the one for you. We priced it accordingly but the first showing revealed what we already know – although it is priced as a first-time-home-buyer-fixer-upper – the expectation is that it will already be fixed up. With granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances….blah bah blah. Definitely a sign of the times – expectation high – commitment low.

And finally off to Chicago to attend my first AACUL meeting as VP of CUANM. If there weren’t enough acronyms in that sentence for you – I have more. One of the speakers was a CAE, EVP of ASAE. I’m not kidding. Her topic was “Association Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes in the Current Economy” – aka we (credit unions) need to young it up or die. The same message delivered by Jim Collins at the 1 Conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Just for fun I tweeted “Speaker at AACUL talking about social media – bet I’m the only one tweeting this.” Sure enough, a couple minutes later she asked the audience “How many of you tweet?” A smattering of hands. And then “Are any of you tweeting right now?” I was the lone tweeter. At first she was excited and applauded me and then BAM – threw me under the bus by saying “We don’t know what she’s tweeting – she could be saying something really negative.” In other words – fear social media. Perfect. You just gave all of these leaders permission to protect the status quo.

A sign of the times?

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August 2010