‘Dr. Penny’ Offers Gen Y Diagnosis

Specialized staffer grabs young adults' attention.

November 1, 2011

Tia Anderson’s prescription for attracting members of generation Y: Conduct banking on their terms.

Anderson is the resident “gen Y engagement specialist” for $1.1 billion asset Public Service Credit Union. She joined the Denver-based credit union early this year to help it “speak the gen Y language, acquire more gen Y members, and capture more of the gen Y wallet share in the markets we serve.”

She tells Credit Union Magazine what it takes to care for this coveted group.

What does a gen Y engagement specialist do?

Anderson: I come up with new ways to engage with the gen Y population—anyone born between 1977 and 1990. Research shows that gen Y is a convenience-driven generation that lives online, wants to be recognized, and tends to be less loyal to products and services than previous generations.

My job is to interact with gen Y in a way that grabs their attention. I attend events on campus and talk to students about the differences between banks and credit unions.

Right now, I’m developing seminars about budgeting, credit, and other helpful financial information for college students.

Social media is a huge part of this position. I manage two Twitter accounts, two Facebook accounts, multiple foursquare accounts, as well as a blog, video blog, and a microsite. I do all this as “Dr. Penny”—the spokesperson for our new campaign, “Bankitis.”

Bankitis is a disease we created to try to encapsulate the major difference between banks and credit unions: It’s the result of prolonged exposure to impersonal banking.

We hope to educate gen Y about how much more personal and beneficial credit unions are versus banks. I’ve found that few gen Yers know this, and I plan on changing that.

What are the biggest misconceptions about gen Y?

Anderson: One of the biggest misconceptions is that they don’t care about their finances. They’ve grown up in a failing economy, and some have watched their parents make financial mistakes.

I think now, more than ever, the younger generation realizes the importance of financial responsibility. Some gen Yers may be careless with their finances, but it’s only due to a lack of education. That’s where I come in.

Another misconception is that their interactions with financial institutions are only online. Gen Y communicates on multiple levels, and will lean toward an organization with a mix of delivery channels.

While most gen Yers do spend a lot of time online, they still appreciate being able to go into a branch and talk to a real person.

What does gen Y want from financial institutions?

Anderson: Gen Y wants a financial institution that is, first and foremost, convenient. They want mobile banking apps and e-statements. They want to know they can access their accounts wherever they go.

They want to know they won’t get charged for accessing their money, and they want the security of knowing their money is in a good place.

In short, gen Y wants to do banking on its terms. They don’t want to spend a lot of time in a branch or on the phone with customer service. They want to be able to get answers quick, and get on with their lives.

LIBBY VERTZ is an intern in CUNA’s business-to-business publishing department. Contact her at 608-231-4096.