Millennials. Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. Oh, did I forget to mention, Millennials?
There they are, seemingly in every news story expose about politics, economics, social media, you name it. If there’s anything the Millennial Generation gets right, it’s self-aggrandizement via social media recognition.
Do they have money? Yes.
Are they a rising financial power that banks and credit unions are wise to address? Yes.
Are they the sole generation that with the click of yet another selfie will save the future of financial institutions as we know them? Tap the brakes on that.
Sandwiched between the Baby Boomer Generation and the much mentioned Millennials are people like me — Gen Xers. Remember us?
People used to talk about us in a galaxy long ago and far away, when years started with the number 19. It seems like we were the darling of social demographic studies until they figured out the one thing about us that is glaringly apparent — Gen Xers are darn hard to figure out.
Born roughly between 1965 – 1980, Gen X is now entering middle age. The recent death of 90s icon Luke Perry was a punch to the gut of our generation, reminding us that we’re not as young as we once were and not as invulnerable as failing youth once taught us.
But are we financially irrelevant? Unfortunately, the branding and marketing of many banks and credit unions would make it seem that way
Here are some Gen X stats that might change your mind:
- 52% have credit card debt
- 30% have student loans
- 55% of U.S. startup companies are founded by Gen Xers
- 31% of total U.S. income is made by Gen X (but we only comprise 25% of the population)
Depending on age and life choices, we are firmly entrenched in the workforce, paying increasingly higher taxes to fund the aspirations of generations on either side of us and, increasingly, neglected in the outreach of financial institutions.
We are raising children (and/or grandchildren), trying to save for the future as we pay for the present and borrowing for the things we need/want in order to enjoy life in fuller measure.
Some sobering facts you need to know about Gen X, according to Pew Research Center:
- 47% have a parent age 65 or older AND are supporting a child
- 15% are financially supporting the aging parent and dependent child
- Gen Xers are poised to inherit the companies—and incomes—of their professional Baby Boomer predecessors in
In other words, Gen X, while perhaps smaller in sheer numbers, is just as relevant and important as the Millennial Generation. Economically and otherwise.
What made Gen X cool and desirable to financial institutions twenty years ago is still there and to supplant it due to the chest-beating self-importance of Millennials is just bad business.
To put it as bluntly and honestly as a clichéd cynical Gen Xer can — banks and credit unions, for the most part, are doing a lousy job when it comes to anticipating our needs, reaching out to us and establishing meaningful relationships.
Does your strategic plan consider the needs of Gen X? Does your consumer experience program attempt to reach us in ways that resonate with our life experiences and thinking? Does your brand and marketing visually and contextually represent (another plus in the Gen X column — we actually remember reading things with more than 280 characters) the look and feel of Generation X?
If not, again, your bank or credit union is completely missing the boat when it comes to Gen X. We may not have the population and retirement dollar clout of Baby Boomers or the InstaSnapGram “me, me, me” focus and unproven exuberance of Millennials, but we matter. Our families matter. Our dreams (fading as they may be) matter. Our financial goals and needs matter.
As Douglas Copeland, author of “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture,” (often attributed with creating our generational moniker) put it: “… we spend our youth attaining wealth and our wealth attaining youth.”
In our formative years, society shackled us with terms like “detached, cynical, filled with a sense of dread.” In fairness, we earned these terms. We also have financial needs as important and potentially financially lucrative to financial institutions as the self-regarding tsunami of Baby Boomers and Millennials bookending us on either side.
Does your bank or credit union want to be a part of that?