Consumer News & Views
Published twice monthly
July 1, 2015
In this Issue…
- Reaching Out to Millennials:
How to Capture the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of a New Generation of Consumers.
- Consumers Want Faster
Regulatory Approval to Ease Access to Credit Unions.
- 7 Ways to Protect Your Identity This Summer.
by: Nancy Anderson.
- ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award
Recognizes Consumer-Friendly Companies.
- Apply for the 2015 Green CSM
Reaching Out to Millennials: How to Capture the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of
a New Generation of Consumers.
Financial institutions, auto dealers, retailers, schools and non-profit
organizations need to find innovative, tech-savvy ways to reach younger
consumers if they want to grow in the future. Even our political systems need to
change the way they do business if they want to engage Millennials.
While you might want to, you can’t write-off the 80 million Generation Ys (those
born between 1982 and 2003). Millennials really do think differently. They are
heavily dependent on technology and fiercely independent. They think for
themselves, make their own decisions, but they do rely on word-of-mouth
recommendations and social media commentary when making buying decisions.
When it comes to financial institutions, Millennials will have a huge impact on
how banks and credit unions shape their marketing approach as well as their
offerings of savings, checking and investment plans. Make America’s economic
force of the future.”
Below are a few highlights gathered from various thought leaders on how your
company can improve its chances to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of
- They’ll spend billions of dollars on new
technology and education because it ensure their future success.
- They want easy! If you can’t access it on a
Smart Phone, don’t bother.
- They’d rather work at a job that pays less
than work for bad bosses who support antiquated policies, rules and
procedures that crimp the Millennials’ life style.
- They want freedom and life balance – time to
enjoy life and all their toys!
- Millennials will be financially independent.
- Most Millennials will marry later in life
and spend more time with their kids than their Baby boomer parents did.
- When it comes to banking, Millennials will
be the generation that is “heard, not seen.” So, embrace your technology
tools or die. Mobile banking, wearable technology and even biometric
technology are not options; they are must-haves for Millennials.
- By 2020, it won’t be about your branch
locations, it will be about ease-of-access to your online services and the
security of your customer data.
- When it comes to social advancement, you’d
better get rid of the Confederate flags, anti-gay attitude, and antiquated
work rules including low pay and no health insurance benefits. While
Millennials come in all sizes, shapes, colors and races, they have little
patience for the outdated ways of society that inhibit freedoms and restrict
- Millennials won’t work for Neanderthal
managers who expect you to punch a clock and leave your brain at the door.
- Don’t ignore the economic power of
Millennials, especially the emerging Hispanic consumer market. It’s
estimated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to be $1.2 Trillion by 2020.
- The average millennial earned $33,883 in
2013, compared with $40,352 for workers of all ages according to data from
the U.S. Census Bureau. This means Millennials will earn more by age 30 than
Baby Boomers, but they’ll expect to have more free time and a balanced life.
- Financial institutions should heavily market
their credit cards and consumer-friendly workplaces. While Millennials are
currently earning less income (because they are younger), their spending
level is high because of parental support. That means many of them have
significant credit card debt. You could also take a “counter” approach and
educate them about the disadvantages of high balance credit cards.
- Millennials want politicians to fix the
student debt problem now! It’s a massive debt and Millennials need an
immediate solution! What do they want and expect? Millennials believe in
their right to a free in-state education (tuition only); and, Millennials
want Congress to guarantee a four-year degree program that they can afford.
This means that educational institutions will need to provide about $15,000
per year, per student if they expect enrollments to grow.
- The average amount of student debt for
college graduates in 2013 was $28,400, up 2 percent from 2012, according to
the latest data from the Institute for College Access and Success.
- Financial institutions should be helping
recent college graduates refinance their college loans. Millennials will
flock to banks and credit unions that offer special, low-interest, long-term
refinance college loan debt product.
- Credit companies need to re-examine the
negative impact of student loan debt on credit scores and loan applications
- The burden of student debt and low income
jobs is keeping Millennials from buying homes. If the traditional American
Dream is going to be realized for Millennials, politicians must resolve the
student debt crisis now. If Millennials cannot afford home mortgages, every
home-buying related industry will suffer – furniture, appliances, lawn
maintenance, and so forth… not to mention the mortgage lending industry!
- When it comes to retirement planning,
Millennials got the message from their Baby Boomer parents, who have not
saved enough and were hurt in the Great Recession. A recent survey by
Principal Financial Group found that nearly two-thirds of workers who are 23
to 35 started saving for retirement before they were 25, but less than
one-third save 10 percent of their salary through an employer-sponsored
plan. This is an opportunity for financial institutions to offer creative
financial planning services for Millennials.
Consumers Want Faster Regulatory Approval to Ease Access to Credit Unions.
Members and guests came together last month for the American Consumer Council’s
(ACC) annual meeting the discussion among members focused on three key issues.
At the top of the agenda was the concern of 22 state consumer council leaders
who called on ACC to request the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to
expedite approval of 16 credit unions that are trying to expand their field of
membership to include consumer-members of their state consumer councils. Over
845 members have expressed interest in joining a credit union in their local
area, but have not been able to do so because regulators have not yet approved
the credit union’s application to add the state consumer council to its field of
According to ACC’s board of directors, several
credit union SEG applications have been languishing in the NCUA’s approval
process for more than two years, and state consumer councils expressed
frustration with the NCUA’s slow approval process.
Secondly, consumers want a resolution to the Takata airbag fiasco. Dozens of
consumers expressed their concerns on Takata’s inability to move more quickly on
replacing faulty airbags. Members asked ACC to push Takata to expedite the
replacement of faulty airbags.
The third issue that dominated the meeting was financial education programs for
Millennials and retiring Baby Boomers. There’s growing concern that Millennials
are not adequately educated on financial matters and members asked ACC to
increase its offering of financial literacy programs for Millennials. Consumers
who are approaching age 65 expressed concern that they need more information on
Medicare and Social Security benefits.
ACC’s Chairman David Romanski indicated that the 164,000 member non-profit
consumer education organization would carry these issues forward and address
them during the summer months.
7 Ways to Protect Your Identity This Summer. by: Nancy
When I put a list of common financial concerns — 13 Wealth Issues — in front of
my clients and ask what is top of mind for them, Identity Theft is often the
first thing they mention as a pressing concern.
That fear is not unwarranted — identity thieves
can do serious damage when they have access to your Social Security number,
birth date, address, and other sensitive financial information.
Unfortunately, I know from experience. My
personal information was compromised a few years ago, and it scared the heck out
of me. Here’s what happened: A credit card (one that I never applied for) showed
up in my mailbox. I’d never set foot in that particular store, since there
wasn’t one in my neighborhood.
Clearly someone else had used my name and applied
for “instant credit” at the store. – It was a creepy feeling knowing someone had
a fake driver’s license with their picture and my name on it. There are a few
precautions you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen, and if
someone does access your accounts, there are ways to catch it quickly and spring
Be vigilant with your online information.
Only log into your banking and financial institution sites from home or a
secured location. This may seem simple, but it can be easy to forget. For
example, I take a commuter bus into Salt Lake City every morning and spend time
on my iPad writing — it’s my blog time. I’ve caught myself just about the check
my bank information before realizing I am on the bus’s wi-fi, not my own! It’s
so easy to just switch from one task to the other, forgetting to keep financial
Never use a debit card for online purchases.
A debit card is directly connected to your checking or savings account, so if
there is fraud, your account can be drained — ouch! A credit card is just that —
credit! If there are purchases you don’t recognize, you can dispute them without
your funds having already been withdrawn from your account. Consider having one
credit card specifically for that purpose. I just said “never” use a debit card
for online purchases. However, you can if you have a card linked to an account
you use for this purpose only. I know some people don’t like using credit cards,
even if they pay them off each month in full.
Monitor your accounts monthly.
When you go “paperless,” it can be easier to neglect checking your statements.
Be sure to review your bank accounts and credit card statements regularly to
make sure they are correct and to watch for unauthorized purchases. My husband
and I were traveling last month in Africa and found a mistake on our credit card
bill when we returned. We were charged twice for a large purchase! This was a
mistake by the vendor and by watching the account, were able to catch it and
Simplify your financial information.
When you have multiple accounts and can fan out your credit cards like a deck of
playing cards, it’s a challenge to stay on top of things. Consider paring down
your accounts in order to better stay on top of them. In the past I’ve worked
with clients who have had 10 checking and savings accounts, as well as multiple
credit cards. We consolidated them to make them more manageable. Also consider
using an aggregation service, such as Mint.com, so all of your accounts and
daily transactions are viewable with one single sign-in. This can help you
easily stay on top of your account activity.
Check your credit information regularly.
One problem with identity theft is that you may not know what you don’t know. If
someone opens an account in your name and changes your address, you are left in
the dark. You don’t have to pay to get your personal credit information. Though
you can subscribe to a credit monitoring service, you do have access to your
credit information for free. Using
www.annualcreditreport.com, you can request a copy of your credit
information from each of the credit bureaus once a year. Tip — stagger them
throughout the year instead of getting them all at once.
For example, you can use
www.annualcreditreport.com to request your Experian report this month, then
your TransUnion report in October, and your Equifax report in February.
If you notice any unusual activity, you can take action from there. Note — be
sure to use the link provided here. There are other services that aren’t
actually free! This site is authorized by federal law for the credit bureaus to
provide free reports to consumers.
Take advantage of free (or low-cost) credit monitoring services.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, or there was a credit breach in
a company you’re involved with, you may be offered free credit monitoring
services. After my identity theft, I was offered free credit monitoring by
Experian for a few years. The advantage of credit monitoring is that you receive
updates from the very companies that aggregate the data for lenders. When there
is any activity involving your credit, you receive a notice. Whenever there was
a change in my credit or there was a credit inquiry, Experian sent me an email.
This allowed me to very quickly see if there was unauthorized use of credit.
Obviously, you can subscribe to these services for a monthly fee (here are links
to Experian, Transunion and Equifax) and they are sometimes offered at a
discount by your financial institution.
If you see something, report it right away.
I immediately filed a police report when my data was breached. This helped
to disclaim any accounts that were opened in my name that I was unaware of. Also
contact your state and local consumer protection agency — here is a link — for
next steps. In today’s digital world, we have so many advantages. With that
comes a need for diligence to protect our information, whether we like it or
Nancy L. Anderson, CFP™ is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional in Park
City, Utah and a blogger for
Deer Valley Ski
Resort. Follow Nancy on
ACC’s Friend of the Consumer Award Recognizes
Outstanding Businesses in 2015.
Is your business consumer-friendly? Does your
business deserve greater recognition for its service to consumers? If so, you
should apply for the American Consumer Council’s Friend of the Consumer Award.
Now is the time to apply!
Throughout the year, ACC presents its "Friend of
the Consumer" Awards. This prestigious award recognizes manufacturers,
retailers, and other businesses that produce or sell products in the United
States that meet or exceed federally-mandated standards and are touted by
consumers as “consumer friendly.”
Each year, ACC awards numerous "Friend of the
Consumer" Awards to deserving companies and organizations because they have
"demonstrated a commitment to American consumers by providing a specific product
or service that fosters consumer confidence and market acceptance."
To apply for the "Friend of the Consumer" award,
complete the online application and return it to ACC with the application fee.
Applicants will be notified within 5 days of receipt of their application.
Thereafter, a panel of independent judges will review your application and make
a formal recommendation within 20 days of receipt of your award application.
For more information, visit:
Certification Accepting Applications for 2015 Summer Cycle:
If your company or organization would like to
increase its credibility with consumers, you should consider applying for the
Green CSM Certification.
Applications for the 2015 Summer cycle are now being accepted through August 31, 2015.
It's a proven fact that consumers want to do
business with companies that are eco-friendly and practice Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR). The process is straight-forward and all applicants are
recognized by ACC and the Green USA Institute.
All applicants complete the criteria and submit
their responses to ACC's Green Consumer Council for review, assessment and
feedback. Program details and the Green CSM
Certification criteria can be viewed at ACC's website located at: