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Millennials Continue to Stump Traditional Banks

September 3, 2015

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Traditional banks, which are typically run by Baby Boomers and older Gen X’ers, are still trying to figure out the next big generation of consumers, according to a survey of CEOs, chairman, independent directors and senior executive of U.S. banks with more than $250 million in assets.

According to Bank Director’s 2015 Growth Strategy Survey, 60% of bank leaders polled indicated that their bank may not be ready to serve Millennials, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the population. The report noted that banks are struggling to understand and plan for the digital needs and wants of younger demographics, with 70% of bank directors admitting they don’t even use their own bank’s mobile channel.

“Instead of Millennials, banks have been finding most of their growth in loans to businesses and commercial real estate, which is their primary focus,” the report noted. “Loan volume was the primary driver of profitability over the past 12 months for the institutions of 88% of respondents, and the majority, 82%, expect organic loan originations to drive future growth at their institutions over the next year.”

The report, which collected responses from 168 bankers and board members between May and July, showed that 85% of respondents see opportunities for growth in commercial real estate lending, while 56% see growth in commercial and industrial lending. Total loans and leases for the nation’s banks grew 5.4% year over year to $8.4 trillion in the first quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

Indirect and direct auto financing were at the bottom of the list, with 8% and 3% of respondents, respectively, indicating that the two auto lending channels represented key organic loan growth segments. For banks with more than $10 billion in assets, indirect auto lending was tied for third with other consumer lending opportunities and residential mortgages as key loan growth areas.

Bank Director also found that 40% of respondents worry about potential competition from Apple despite only 18% indicating they offer Apple Pay. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they didn’t think their bank was ready to offer the feature to their customers.

But the study also showed that more boards are putting technology on their agendas, with 45% indicating their board discusses technology at every board meeting — up 50% from last year’s survey. Additionally, more than three-quarters of respondents indicated plans to invest more in technology within their bank’s branch network.

Eighty percent of respondents indicated that their bank’s mobile offering includes bill pay, remote deposit capture and account history. Less common, according to the study, were features such as peer-to-peer payments, merchant discounts and deals, which were increasingly offered by nonbank competitors.

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