FROM OUR PARTNERS: The Evolving Consumer Expectations Every Credit Union Needs to Know

What people expect from their primary financial institution (PFI) is changing. COVID-19 certainly played a role, as consumers experienced the convenience and time-savings of using digital means to accomplish everyday tasks. The pandemic was not the only reality to alter expectations, however. Louder cries for social justice and the acceleration of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles echoed across the country, inspiring many people to rethink where they do business and with whom.

These expectations present two critical imperatives for growth-minded credit unions. From a digital perspective, members expect their credit unions to get up to speed with technology and seamless experiences. On the social justice and DEI front, they expect meaningful, intentional action that delivers on the credit union promise to help people – all people – achieve financial well-being.

New research from CUNA Mutual Group underscores the urgency for credit unions to align with expectations. The research was among the most comprehensive we’ve ever conducted, inclusive of a larger portion of the U.S. population. As just one example, we talked with Native American, Alaskan Native and Indigenous consumers, as well as Multiracial and Gen Z consumers. These growing populations provide a much-need perspective in terms of what today’s multigenerational, multicultural consumers expect from their financial services providers. 

Below are a few of the takeaways included in the What Matters NowTM 2022 Research Report.

Younger generations want to know where brands stand. Taking a stand on social and political issues is important to consumers, especially those under 40. A large number of Gen Z (42%) and Millennial (34%) Americans believe brands should always focus on social and political issues. When speaking out, credit unions should start by looking within. If employees want to hear something, chances are high members do, too.

Multicultural, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are less happy with DEI efforts. DEI practices matter to young consumers and multicultural consumers, and there is plenty of room for improvement. Take staff representation, for example. Whereas 80% of White consumers are satisfied with their PFI’s consumer-facing team, only 58% of Asian consumers, 68% of Hispanic consumers and 69% of Black consumers are satisfied that their PFI has staff representing their culture. Credit unions must elevate DEI plans to the level of other strategic imperatives to ensure promises are lived out authentically.

Giving back to the community is a significant value. Younger and multicultural consumers want their credit unions to do well, and to do good. Half of Black (51%) and Multiracial (49%) consumers say it’s important that their PFI is active in giving back. A similar percentage of Millennials (53%) and Gen X (47%) agree.

When it comes to the “how” of giving back, consumers want their PFIs to focus on three distinct causes above many others: improve financial well-being, solve for food insecurity, and support education.

As your credit union moves into 2023, think through the programs, policies and products that meaningfully connect back to your members. Are there changes you could make to better align with the expectations your community has for you? For more ideas, download our 2022 What Matters Now research report.