It’s a subject many may not think about, but Barbara Cooch does. As senior vice president of Columbia Bank, she is interested in the future of her industry, and millennials are it. Their banking habits aren’t necessarily the same as those of older generations, however. Below, Cooch, a longtime Bellevue resident, answers a few questions for 425 Business about the banking habits of millennials.
First and foremost, millennials are extremely tech-savvy. They are the earliest and biggest adopters of new technology, so it’s not surprising they want real-time, anytime banking. We find they don’t go into branches unless there’s a serious problem or they need quarters for laundry. Millennials rarely use checks or statements and prefer digital practices across the board: mobile banking and mobile deposit, online banking and new technology like Apple Pay.
Millennials also are very self-sufficient with banking tools. They can track their balances online and use chat features to access customer service for problem resolution.
2. How has banking changed on the Eastside in the last 10 years?
Much like we’re seeing on the national level, there has been an influx of bank mergers and acquisitions on the Eastside. In Bellevue alone, Charter Bank became Boston Private, then Sterling Bank, and is now Umpqua Bank. There is significantly less branch traffic and, as a result, new branches are moving into storefronts rather than traditional stand-alone buildings. The national banks eliminated their private banking programs and increased the criteria for their wealth management several years ago, so Columbia Bank is seeing more opportunities for relationship banking in that realm.
3. What trends are you seeing with Eastside millennials? Any products or features they especially value?
We find that most Eastside millennials want time-saving products and services. They are always on the go, so user-friendly mobile and online banking is the delivery system of choice. We find millennials appreciate bankers who will help them find financial solutions both personally and professionally, above all things. On the Eastside, a lot of millennials are starting up businesses, expanding current operations, or investing in residential and commercial real estate. While the majority of these young entrepreneurs appreciate the digital options, we find there is still a need and appreciation for a human who speaks their language and educates them. Millennials want transparency and, at the end of the day, a place where they go for advice and counsel, both in-person and online.