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Millennial Minded

Banks, beware those millennials and their activism — or at least keep up with them

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One of my biggest gripes with how civics is taught in school is when teachers tell students you have to be 18 to vote.

It’s really not true at all. Sure, you have to be 18 to vote in an election, but as soon as you’re tall enough to place a dollar bill on a checkout counter and trade that capital for goods and services, you’re casting a vote.

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Millennials are discovering you can actually enact some level of social change by changing your spending habits. Obviously it’s not a new idea — boycotts have been around for ages — but even more subtle forms of spending habits are creating a ripple in our economic layout.

A study at the Millennial Disruption Index suggests the industry with the highest risk of disruption is banking. The study found that all four of the top banks are among the 10 least loved brands.

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That wasn’t a surprising fact for Dan McElwee, executive vice president at Ventura Wealth Management and fellow millennial.

“I believe that,” he said. “If you think about it, for almost three years, every time millennials turned on their television or opened their web browser, they saw negative headlines surrounding those types of institutions.”

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In late 2009, the Move your Money campaign was started in an effort to raise awareness and get people to move their money from the “too big to fail” banks to smaller local banks and credit unions.

Of course, banks will try and keep up with millennials.

RELATED: Top concern of banks: Making sure mobile is secure

NJBIZ recently did a story on the growing mobile trend because, well, it’s a little hard to ignore. And banks are seeing the writing on the wall.

A 2013 KPMG study asked banks which IT-related projects they would be focusing on in the next year in relation to customer growth. The overwhelming majority (40 percent) answered “mobile banking.”

“Brick and mortar bank locations are becoming less important, and it’s going to change the way millennials think about their banking relationships,” McElwee said. “It’s not going to matter if your bank is in your hometown, or if it’s in New York City or San Francisco. It’s just going to matter that they have a good app and good customer service when you need it.”


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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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