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Banks rush to capture millennials

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Banks, like most other industries, know that millennials are a key customer base now and particularly in the future.

It’s why banks in the Greater Lehigh Valley and beyond target millennials by offering expanded digital resources, financial education programs, a significant social media presence and products to assist them in making major life decisions.

A millennial customer now, it is hoped, will be a lifelong client.

“With millennials now outpacing baby boomers in the workplace, the banking industry as a whole is very focused on how to best serve this generation – both as customers and as the future of the banking workforce,” said Sara Hocker, marketing and communications coordinator at the Pennsylvania Bankers Association in Harrisburg.

She said the trade association works with many banks that have focused on services that appeal to millennials. The likes and dislikes, interests and activities of the younger generation are a high priority for banks, whose future depends on how they reach these mobile-friendly, tech-savvy and convenience-driven people.

“Many of our member banks are actively engaged in discussions with young professional organizations and other touch points with the younger generation to help better inform their products, offerings, communications and delivery channels,” Hocker said.

LIFETIME FINANCIAL PARTNER

Mark Jaindl, chairman, president and CEO of American Bank in South Whitehall Township, said the banking needs of millennials are different from that of their parents and grandparents.

“That’s why we want to offer them products and services that cater to what they need and want from a bank,” he said. “Our goal is to become the lifetime financial partner for a millennial throughout their life.

“When they are ready to buy their first home, get married, start a family, take a dream vacation, or start a business.”

SAVINGS, TOO

American Bank offers low interest loans, first-time homebuyers programs and special account programs for college students. The bank’s forever free checking account has many free incentives that millennials find attractive, including free unlimited bill pay, account transfers, ATM fee rebates and PopMoney, a service that allows account holders to pay others via their email address or mobile phone number.

Jaindl said while millennials frequently fall into the category of first-time homebuyers or first-time business owners, studies show 81 percent of millennials are savers. Nearly half of this younger generation already has $15,000 or more in savings.

With that in mind, American Bank provides a variety of certificates of deposit, savings and money market account options.

STRESSING DIGITAL

At Lafayette Ambassador Bank based in Bethlehem, president and CEO Joe Feilmeier credits millennials for being one of the driving forces behind the bank’s expansion into digital services.

“They have helped us to focus on our digital interests. We have the mobile app. … We just updated the website for our holding company Fulton Financial Corp.,” Feilmeier said. “When thinking of millennials, we have financial literacy programs.

“We go out to schools from middle school on up and educate students. And since many millennials are first-time homebuyers, our affordable housing programs and services really cater to them.”

CREDIT COUNSELING

Lafayette Ambassador has credit counseling services for low income people and for those who have a difficult time establishing credit. Often, these people are millennials.

Feilmeier said Lafayette Ambassador has a credit counselor in its Reading office, and hopes to provide the same service in the Lehigh Valley.

Dave Kennedy, northern Pennsylvania region president at BB&T, said the bank recently launched three new credit cards geared to millennials interested in rewards programs and travel incentives.

The bank, which has locations throughout the region, expects the travel rewards card to be especially attractive to millennials who Kennedy said “enjoy spending on experiential travel.”

RAMPING UP ONLINE SERVICES

Banks investing in a strong social media presence and technological advances can expect to bring in mobile-friendly millennials. It is the generation that thrives on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Bank officials are well aware that they need to amp up their online services to get the attention of millennials. Services that get a lot of attention include mobile apps, person-to-person, bank-to-bank and bill pay features, money transfers made with just a click of a button and 24/7 access.

“We offer U by BB&T, which is our mobile and online banking experience with enhanced features,” Kennedy said. “This especially appeals to millennials and we’ve seen a 27 percent growth rate in mobile transactions.

“Zelle is our person-to-person feature that provides a fast, safe and easy way to send and receive money directly between almost anyone you know, with no fees and typically within minutes. Millennials are particularly receptive to the payment method.”

PROMOTIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Kevin Schmidt, president and CEO at The Neffs National Bank in North Whitehall Township, said his bank supplies all the standard financial products and services that millennials desire.

The bank recognizes that social media and technology have to continue to expand to reach this target market. Neffs will put special promotions on social media sites as well as informational content and is constantly researching the products and services that are “must-haves for millennials.”

Mobile banking, person-to-person payments, bank-to-bank transfers and online bill pay are just some mobile offerings, and millennials also like that they can do online loan applications, Schmidt said.

Surprisingly, “there are many millennials who wish to talk or meet with a live person when they have questions. Our bank stresses the importance of this interaction,” Schmidt said.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@lvb.com

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