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Research reveals insights into the financial attitudes and banking preferences of the largest generation in history.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or (less commonly) Echo Boomers, are the fastest-growing generation of consumers in the banking industry. This generation, encompassing nearly 80 million Americans born between 1977 and 1995, is entering the life stage where they are making significant financial and banking decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. This translates into a huge opportunity for banks to win their loyalty for a lifetime.

Millennials in the United States at a glance:

  • Currently ages 19 to 37
  • Number around 79.8 million
  • Most ethnically diverse generation in US history
  • Getting married and having their first child later than any previous generation
  • Buying their first home later than previous generations
  • Greatest number of college graduates ever -- twice as many degrees conferred in 2009 as in 1970
  • Came of age with the Internet, mobile devices, and ubiquitous social media

Millennials, because of their size and life stage, currently represent the greatest potential lifetime value of any consumer segment in banking. Financial institutions need to worry about wooing this demographic for one simple reason: inertia. If most consumers dont switch banks unless either (1) they move, or (2) something goes horribly wrong, then its critical for banks and credit unions to win over as many Millennial consumers as quickly as possible.

With that in mind, the industry trade group Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), has released findings from their study, American Millennials and Banking: A Cross-Generational Study, to help financial industry executives better understand the differences between Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. The study revealed the change in demands on financial services in America.

The survey revealed that 55% of all Americans believe that banks treat them like a number. The generation that most strongly felt that financial institutions treat them like a number? Millennials (58%). 66% of Americans wish their relationship with banks were more personal. Ironically, if you asked banks what they think sets them apart from their competitors, the overwhelming majority would cite their warm, friendly, caring and personal service. Obviously there is a disconnect between the experience banks believe they are delivering and what Millennials are actually experiencing.

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