Because boomers typically aren’t aware of all the services and products that credit unions offer, Green advises credit unions to make a strong effort to retain boomers’ assets, even when it might seem to be too late.
“When we get requests for outgoing asset transfers, we’ll call those members and tell them we offer the same services as the institutions they’re making transfers to,” she says. “They’re often surprised to hear that. Even though it might be too late to make them change their mind and stop the transfer, we’ll often see that money return to us at a later date.”
Gatrell says such calls save a certain percentage of members. “Some of them almost seem reluctant to make a transfer, and I think our call gives them a last-minute reason not to go through with it.”
He adds that the financial advisers at Vantage offer independent advice and sell a range of products, giving members many options. “Also, we thoroughly explain products to members—advantages and drawbacks—so they truly understand what they’re getting.”
Forge generational ties
One side effect of losing boomer assets goes back to the concerns credit unions often express to Mummau: their ability to attract younger members.
“Credit unions that don’t focus on retirement services will lose those members’ descendants,” says Mummau. “For many people, membership in a credit union is a ‘pass-along’ thing, where children follow their parents. If boomer accounts leave you, most likely so will their descendants.”
Cindy Harbison, president of credit union service organization operations at Vantage, says credit unions need to keep in mind just how close a relationship members expect. “How people talk about their financial institution is revealing. Most bank customers say, ‘I have to go to the bank.’ But many members say, ‘I’m going to my credit union.’
“That sense of ownership is important,” she adds. “That’s why credit unions shouldn’t be intimidated by the size and name recognition of other financial institutions. They often overlook their own strengths, such as the inside track they already have with members.”
Gatrell advises emphasizing that, although credit unions offer the same services as large institutions, “We are not like them. That point will resonate with many members.
“For many boomers, retirement isn’t the end,” he continues. “Many go on to new careers, start businesses, and reinvent themselves. They want to stay actively involved in their
financial affairs, so keep that in mind as you deal with them.”