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Filene Announces Center of Excellence for The Next Generation of Member Growth


Filene Research Institute recently announced its newest research focus -- The Center of Excellence for The Next Generation of Member Growth. The goal of this center is to identify strategies, including internal and external practices, to attract, engage and retain the next generation of credit union members.

Millennials and Gen Z are crucial for the future of credit unions. However, at the current moment, these generations aren’t finding the financial institutions they need, and credit unions are struggling to find ways to attract new, younger members.

Credit unions need to get on the financial radar of Millennials and Gen Zers and create deep, lasting relationships with them. Despite the current disconnect, there is overlap in the needs and beliefs of these generations and how credit unions conduct business.

FileneLed by Filene Fellow, Kim Lear a highly respected generational sociologist in collaboration with an advisory council of credit union leaders, the Center’s work aims to:

  • Identify emerging capabilities in both physical and digital channels to reach and convert Millennials and Gen Zers into members.
  • Identify how products and services will need to evolve and what investments are necessary to meet the financial needs and build trust with the most diverse, multi-ethnic consumer base in history.
  • Investigate what promising growth opportunities exist that can simultaneously protect credit unions against fintech incumbents while driving revenue and membership growth.
  • Explore key infrastructure requirements to enable personalization of offers and optimization of the member experience to drive higher relevancy and conversion.
  • Test marketing strategies and tactics to identify which approaches strengthen brand identity, reinforce value proposition, build loyalty and establish clear points of market differentiation.

“I’m excited to embark on this journey to explore innovative approaches for credit unions to connect with the next generation—as they hold the key for future growth and sustainability. With my deep understanding of millennial trends and generational dynamics, my goal for this new research center is to provide credit unions with actionable insights that will help build lasting relationships with younger consumers, ensuring their continued growth and relevance for years to come,” stated Filene Fellow Kim Lear.

This highly-anticipated research center is quickly drawing credit union attention and sponsors including Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Christian Financial Credit Union, Financial Plus Credit Union, Fiserv and SRM (Strategic Resource Management). 

"In a landscape where the average credit union member's age is steadily increasing and the younger demographic remains largely untapped, sponsoring research on The Next Generation of Member Growth isn't just prudent—it's imperative,” said Ben Mrva, SRM’s Chief Revenue Officer. “With less than 20% of Americans under 40 utilizing credit unions, and prime borrowers typically in their 30s and 40s, it's clear that the future of credit unions hinges on attracting Millennials and Gen Zers." 

"The looming demographic shift demands proactive strategies,” stated Patty Campbell, CEO of Christian Financial Credit Union. “By supporting initiatives like Filene's New Center for The Next Generation of Member Growth, credit unions can spearhead efforts to identify emerging capabilities, evolve products and services, explore growth opportunities, and optimize member experiences. It's not just about survival; it's about thriving in an ever-changing financial landscape."

“Credit unions have served generations of Americans, helping meet the financial needs of everyday people in communities across our country,” said John Gibbons, Head of the Financial Institutions Group at Fiserv. “The need for affordable, accessible financial services hasn’t waned, and in fact is greater than ever. Filene's Center for The Next Generation of Member Growth will help connect credit unions to the people who need them, propelling the enduring mission of the credit union movement well into the future.”

Credit unions and system partners have an opportunity to get involved as part of Filene’s Inner Circle by sponsoring this Center of Excellence, much like these organizations already have.

The Center of Excellence for The Next Generation of Member Growth will officially launch in July 2024. 


About Filene: 

Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation. For more information, visit filene.org and @fileneresearch.


Holly Fearing | hollyf@filene.org | 608.661.3758 

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