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How Banks Can Build Trust With Millennials, From a Millennial Viewpoint

April 12, 2016|0 min read
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I was 12 years old when my father took me to open my first bank account. What initially seemed like an exciting rite of passage turned out to be a bit of a let down. As the account manager described why opening an account was a great decision, I grew bored and complacent. At the time I thought that a bank was just a place where you put money until you needed it, and I didn’t see the point adding this extra step to accessing my funds.   

In later years, I started to use my bank more frequently to deposit paychecks and withdraw cash. My relationship with my bank grew as the bank’s online user experience became an alternative option to driving to the branch, and I started to check my accounts and analyze the month’s transactions much more frequently. This dramatically improved my relationship with my bank.

Flash forward years later and now I am in college with my first credit card and car loan. Using a credit card and understanding how the mechanics work with credit is something that I never had any issues with. By this point I had experiences with multiple banking products and services and had gone into a much deeper relationship with my banking institution.

Establishing trust and maintaining the relationship

As a millennial, my trust and relationships with banks has largely depended on whether they understand my specific needs and actively make accommodations those needs. If a bank is trying to find ways to attract the millennial generation, they need to understand that not all Millennials have the same needs and values and that providing a variety of simple digital options will help.

Being raised in the information age has put trust at the forefront of most Millennials’ minds and that means banks have to make sure they maintain the relationship in order to be successful. As First Data shows, “71% of Millennials consider their banking relationship to be transactional rather than relationship-driven.” Personalizing the digital banking experience can help build these relationships and establish trust.

For a millennial, trust often means greater transparency throughout the banking institution. Since banks are the ones holding the money or value we derive from labor, then they should be as transparent as possible in transactions. This is a pain point with Millennials and has spawned the bitcoin and P2P revolution. When banks can add value by leveraging these new technologies and processes they will open transparency and be a step ahead from a trust point of view.

Maintaining a relationship for a bank might also mean sending personalized text alerts and emails — though these forms of communication tend to be one sided. In contrast, real-time chat is an easy two-way channel that works well, especially when it’s embedded directly into the digital experience. In addition, Millennials appreciate banks proactively upgrading account features and benefits or sending an unexpected free gift on occasion (everyone likes swag).

A final component of trust relates to security. The information age brings security risks, including identity theft, data hacking, and outright robbery of accounts. I feel completely valid in saying that no banking institute is 100% secure and can perfectly provide that guarantee to its customers, but the more they can shore up against hacking and let customers know they're protected against losses, the better.

Banks and credit unions will build trust as they follow safety precautions such as PCI compliance standards, encouraging account holders to change passwords, and educating consumers on scams.

Looking to the future

With banks investing heavily in developing their financial technology, they should keep an eye on solutions that also develop trust and maintain relationships. My personal feeling is that the more responsive a bank can be the better since digital technology have changed our opinions about what constitutes immediate feedback. I want to be treated like I’m a preferred customer and also have a sense of pride when it comes to my banking relationship. 

Ryan Key is a cloud security consultant partnering with Fortune 1000 organizations to help guide transitions to cloud environments both public and private. He can be located online here.

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