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11Apr
BY Laurie DeSalvo IN Uncategorized Banks, Millennials, and the ´Chicken-on-a-Stick´ Problem

In La-La Land Mia says to Sebastian who dreams of opening his own music club: “I think you should call it ´Seb’s´ because no one will come to a place called ´Chicken on a Stick´.“

What does that have to do with convincing millennials to come work for a financial institution?

Let me tell you.

You are probably used to thinking that millennials and banking are no match made in heaven. I am also sure you´ve read somewhere that since the 2008 economic bust the number of students deciding to work in that field is down by half.

As figures in the 2016 Bank Director´s Compensation Survey show, 46 percent of banks with assets between $1.1 and $5 billion say there aren’t enough talented commercial lenders in their markets. Yet a full 68 percent of that same segment are either not actively targeting millennials or are doing it unsuccessfully.

Quite a disconnect between the industry’s approach to attract Generation Yers on the one hand and the severe lack of talent on the other.

So, it´s true: until now millennials and banks are not a blossoming romance. However, could this be because the lovers are listening to ill-conceived advice from parents and friends?

Let´s find out.

Looks can be deceiving

One thing´s for sure: in a candidate-driven labor market and with an aging workforce banks need to find a way to get to talk to millennials. But many financial execs do not court those born after the early 1980s because they think this group is more about entitlements than work.

Millennials, in turn, overlook that what financial institutions do – and that´s particularly true for smaller organizations like community and mid-sized banks and credit unions – is very much in line with what they are looking for: meaning.

Misperceptions like these should be removed. The only question is: how?

The likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citi have decided to meet millennials on their turf. They engage in fancy stuff like using Snap Spectacles (basically glasses with a camera) to showcase “a day in the life” of a bank employee on Snapchat, the social media application.

I can hear some of you sighing “Snap What”? But don´t worry. No need to head over to that app store just yet. You in community banking should instead take a step back and become fully aware of a competitive advantage you have in the race for talent.

Which story do we tell?

“People love what other people are passionate about.” (that was the last La-La-Land quote, promise).

Instead of joining the ranks of the big investment firms on Snapchat, re-write the story you tell about yourself.

To millennials, the “Why” is key. They do not want to be a cog in a faceless corporation. Instead, they want to have a real impact on the lives of real people.

So here is my suggestion: make your “Why” explicit!

Tell millennials that you are all about meaning. That it is you who provides the capital enabling everything that happens in our economy. Especially to the fast-growing small businesses that create jobs and help people achieve milestones like buying a home, sending kids to college and so many other things that make a life worth living.

What could be more meaningful than that?

Community banks often have a dull image they do not deserve. You should change that by getting the word out of how you touch people’s lives.

Once Millennials understand that you are not ´Chicken on a Stick´, they will come.

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