Credit unions compete with big banks to attract young Canadians.

In recent years, the Canadian Credit Union Association has been promoting credit unions to millennials and Generation Z.

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Kayla Rourke’s first banking experience was with Conexus Credit Union but she left to try the Bank of Nova Scotia as a teenager, hoping to take advantage of the CinePoint program to get free movie tickets.

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She later tried a bank or two, but eventually, the 29-year-old Regina-based teacher returned to Conexus five years ago because of its no-fee checking account, customer service and focus on helping local communities. In 2021, for example, the credit union reinvested more than $1.9 million in Saskatchewan communities through its Community Investment Program.

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“I’m really excited to be with the credit union because I want to make life better where I live,” Rourke said.

“It feels like in a bank I’m always trying to sell something,” she added. “I think at a credit union, I’ve had great conversations about how to build wealth or save for specific goals while keeping it realistic. I like how they check in with me. What are they to see how it’s going….I feel like at a bank I’m a customer and at a credit union, I feel like a client.

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Disha Soni, a 32-year-old self-employed financial advisor, said that in her case it made more sense to go with a bank rather than a credit union because they are known worldwide and have many physical branches.

“They are well established and I had more confidence in giving my money away,” she said. Sonny, who moved to Ottawa in November 2021, was also attracted by the offers that banks have for newcomers.

In recent years, the Canadian Credit Union Association has been promoting credit unions to millennials and Generation Z. According to a report titled “Credit Unions and Millennials” published by MNP, attracting and retaining millennials and Generation Z is critical to sustaining Canadian credit unions. system, especially as it faces an aging member base.

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Ipsos’ 2021 Customer Service Index survey revealed that 59.2 percent of credit union members are over the age of 55. On the other hand, only 12 percent of credit union members were between the ages of 18 and 34.

With banks, the survey found that 17.5 percent of customers are 18 to 34 years old and 45.6 percent of customers are 55 and older.

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Annette Bester, national leader of credit union services at MNP, said there needs to be a lot of education around credit unions to understand what they are and what they do. He said that this awareness may vary depending on the geography.

For example, while credit unions are more popular in some parts of the country, such as Saskatchewan, there may be less awareness in Ontario, where most of the country’s largest banks are headquartered.

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Bester said there are some misconceptions about credit unions, such as if you join a credit union that operates in one province, you can’t access funds elsewhere if you’re traveling. Will be able to.

“Credit unions have access to ATM networks around the world and they have mobile banking apps. They have the same things that the big banks do but maybe don’t know it,” he explained.

Credit union members can use any ATM that belongs to the exchange network for free, but will have to pay a surcharge when using ATMs that are not part of the network.

Pamela George, a financial literacy counselor at Sand Dollar Financial Literacy, said the biggest disadvantage for credit unions is that they don’t have as big a budget for marketing as banks.

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Otherwise, both George and Bester believe the not-for-profit, community-focused nature of credit unions will appeal to young people if they understand more about how they operate.

For example, customers of credit unions are called members, and profits go back into the credit union to establish better interest rates and lower fees for members, George said.

Where banks have a hand is with better technology on their apps and websites. They lead the way in this area, George said.

When deciding on their fit, young people must weigh digital technology and the availability of physical locations across Canada to determine whether they want to create a not-for-profit bank with a community focus.

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