Credit unions will need to shift focus to being outstanding advice-givers to the new, younger wealth-holders.
To survive in a changing world, credit unions will have to lend successfully in that changing world.
One thing that’s changing is who holds the wealth. And that may mean, interestingly enough, that credit unions will need to shift some of their focus from lending to being outstanding advice-givers to the new wealth-holders.
Wealth in America is gravitating toward the top quadrant, which is also getting older, says economic consultant Bill Conerly, based in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
“The baby boomers are not only getting older; they’re starting to die off,” he observes. “This will bring a huge transfer of wealth to younger generations.” The very rich are turning to philanthropy, but the upper-middle class is still leaving most of its wealth to its kids. This will make the traditional CU member stronger financially, with less need to borrow but more need for financial advice.
That advice now is largely coming from stockbrokers, trust bankers, estate planners and even robo advisors.
“The financial press doesn’t recognize credit unions as significant players in this space,” Conerly reports, “but it’s a real opportunity to provide trusted, face-to-face advice to people who don’t want to pay high commissions or talk to robots.”
In a changing world, does the future of financial services belong to the visionaries or the institutions that stick to tried-and-true strategies?
“Most visionaries fail,” Conerly points out, “but those who succeed change the world. There will be a lot of upheaval, but trust and service will remain the most important attributes of financial service.”
That means that credit unions can continue to concentrate on what they have always done best, he suggests, but partner with visionaries through credit union service organizations, fintechs or other for-profit companies. cues icon
Richard H. Gamble writes from Grand Junction, Colorado.