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Do Young People have Problems with Credit Unions?

1 October 2013

The name change of a credit union on the west coast has brought to light one important question – do young people mistrust credit unions more than they do actual banks? The credit union is (or was) North Shore Credit Union, which will now be known as BlueShore Financial.  One reason why the credit union has changed its name is because they no longer strictly deal with the North Shore. But there’s another reason for the name change, too. Those within the branch think that it will attract younger clients that don’t trust credit unions as much as they do the big banks.

“Our new name no longer geographically ties us to the North Shore,” says Chris Catliff, President of the newly named BlueShore Financial. “We do business as far away as Alberta; we’re a regional player and over 70 per cent of our business is off the North Shore.”

But, he says, those who are under the age of 30, and who have a bit of money to invest in a home, don’t see credit unions as the same safe harbour that a big bank would be.

“What we saw in our research, more affluent and recent immigrants and people under thirty don’t identify with the credit union name,” says Catliff. “We’re all proud to be credit unions and we’re staying a credit union, but it has a brand associated with it that doesn’t associate well with those demographics.”

But just because they’re changing their name doesn’t mean that they’re moving away from the credit union model. But a change, complete with a new name and even a new western decor in their stores, are all part of that.

“Our typical clients are double income, have aging parents, kids at school or just about to go to university; they’ve got car payments, may have bitten off more on their house than they should have, and their life is trying and complex with a lot of issues,” Catliff said in a statement. “They can come into our tranquil financial spas and we will create a road map for them. Essentially, we say ‘we’ve got your back’ and we find that this target market resonates strongly with our offer.”

He also says that the credit union will not be shutting out the brokerage channel the way many banks are today, as he believes that the younger generation are relying on them more today.

“With mortgage brokers now, if we can’t place it on our books, we find an alternative lender,” he says. “We consider them a key channel and partnership for us and we think they do common sense lending – it’s been a great relationship.”

What do you think? Do younger people disassociate with credit unions today?

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