MADISON, Wis. (11/4/10)--Baby Boomers are facing a new reality in these turbulent times, and it would behoove credit unions to address the changing needs of the nation’s largest generation, attendees of CUNA Mutual Group’s Online Discovery Conference were told Wednesday. Jeff Hunt, consumer program manager at CUNA Mutual Group, presented strategies for dealing with the new mindset so credit unions can retain boomers as members long after retirement. Online Discovery, CUNA Mutual’s Web-based equivalent of a face-to-face conference, attracted more than 1,400 national and international credit union and league staff. The conference aims to help credit unions solve problems, face challenges and address opportunities. The turbulence of the last decade means boomers are dealing with a new reality, Hunt said. “There is a new mindset, but it is still unique to boomers. They have not become cynical or negative like other generations. They are still optimistic and have dreams, but they are simpler--and maybe better--dreams.” The boomers have had it rough so far in this century. From the dot-com bust to Sept. 11 to the current economic woes, the boomers have had their usually optimistic outlook tested. Members of all generations have been affected, but the impact of these events looms larger for boomers because they are quickly approaching retirement, he said. The oldest boomers will turn 65 and be eligible for Medicare in just two months. “Credit unions must act now or they could lose over five million members and $550 billion in assets as the boomers enter retirement if they leave credit unions like previous generations of retirees have done,” Hunt said. To retain these retirees, research suggests credit unions must evolve from being mainly lending institutions for mid-life borrowers to retirement companies that offer a full range of solutions to boomer members. Hunt provided six steps to help credit unions manage this transition:
* Use the credit union advantage. Trust in credit unions is at an all-time high, especially when compared to banks. Boomers approaching and in retirement need a trus partner because with time it gets more difficult to make up for financial mistakes. * Tell them what you can do. Stop being shy talking about what you offer retirees and how you can help them. They are readjusting their dreams; tell them how you can work together to achieve them. * Provide retirement expertise. Achieving the coveted position of the member’s retirement adviser requires every credit union employee to play a role, ensuring they work as a team to be successful. The credit union itself should be seen as the advisor, not just a person with that title. * Provide retiree products. To be considered a viable financial partner in retirement, endorse a full suite of retiree products, either by offering them yourself or finding a partner who can. * Make it easy to buy. Making things easier and simpler is boomer theme and a retiree need. Boomers desire options without complexity.