American banking habits can vary tremendously from generation to generation. With mobile banking services, cars that make it possible to travel enormous distances, telephones to call banks with, and a hundred other inventions, everyone can take advantage of financial services. The question is, how are they doing so?
Millenials are big fans of digital banking services, and one of the most important facts about this demographic is how intolerant they are of any kind of technological error, or even of standing in line. Whereas previous generations were accustomed to standing in line in order to get services or goods, Millennials have come to expect and demand that everything be done seamlessly online. Millennials prefer to apply for a bank account online, and mobile Internet banking is even more important to them. Any banks that do not offer an excellent online banking experience with seamless app integration can largely count out any Millennial business.
Generation X, those between the ages of 35 and 55, are perhaps America’s most flexible living generation. They lived the switch from analog to digital and were at just the right age to make that switch successfully, unlike some in older generations who continue to struggle. Yet they are much more comfortable with older forms of technology and ways of doing things than are Millennials or Generation Z. Generation X in many ways, though, feels itself to be the least protected. They are making most of the country’s money, paying most of the country’s taxes, and providing for everyone else. Because they feel insecure, they are more likely than younger generations to take out some sort of life insurance policy and worry about savings. And while they do like and use mobile banking, online banking is actually their preferred way of dealing with banks.
Those born during the baby boom that came after World War II are today over 55 years old. While many have adapted to the digital world, it is rare to find Baby Boomers who are as comfortable with digital banking and online banks as they are visiting brick-and-mortar institutions. More than a quarter of baby boomers prefer to go directly to the bank itself in order to conduct any sort of transaction, and others would go if it were more convenient. They value that face-to-face interaction that visits to banks bring, and, unlike Millennials, they don’t mind standing in line. At least for a while.
Generation Z Is just coming into its own and most are too young to really have had any meaningful interaction with banks yet. However, they are already showing signs of separating from Millennials in the way they conduct business. Like Millennials, they do value online services and the ability to use apps and mobile banking services. Like the Baby Boomers, though, they value personal interaction. It is not uncommon for one generation to react to the preferences of the generation before them by moving in the opposite direction, so is not terribly surprising to find that the children of Millennials are reacting by returning to face-to-face communication. For banks, this means it’s important not to entirely do away with those brick-and-mortar branch buildings. They are likely to come in very handy at some time in the near future.
Americans of every generation need their banks, and banks have to be concerned with providing the experience that people want in order to stay ahead. Each generation is different, but all are essentially looking for the same thing: a safe place to keep money and conduct financial transactions. So long as banks provide that, they’ve taken the first steps toward success.
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