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CU Staff Needs to See Opportunities; Not Just Transactions, Clapp Tells Cornerstone Annual Meeting Attendees
Friday, April 25, 2014 6:50 AM

Bruce Clapp

Consumers’ buying habits are dramatically different depending on which financial life stage they are in, and it’s important to understand this in order to earn their business, according to Bruce Clapp of MarketMatch. Clapp presented, “If the Loan Fits: Taking a Generational Lending Approach” educational session Thursday at the Cornerstone Credit Union League’s Annual Meeting & Expo in San Antonio.

“The key here is to be there when our members need us to be there,” he told the audience. “Staff needs to see opportunities, and not just transactions.”

Clapp shared a recent story with the audience. He had gone into his credit union to obtain a cashier’s check to buy a car. He told the teller why he needed the teller, and while the teller was courteous and complied with his request for a cashier’s check, she did not take advantage of the opportunity to “sell” him an auto loan.

“It was a missed opportunity for the credit union,” he said. “If we understand the financial life stage that a member is in, we can interject ourselves in their life.”

Clapp says there are 12 financial life stages:

  1. Have money and need a place to put it
  2. Need a loan and a place to get it
  3. Have taxes to pay
  4. Need help paying taxes
  5. Birth of a child or grandchild
  6. College
  7. Marriage or divorce
  8. Starting a new job
  9. Buying a car
  10. Buying a house
  11. Retirement
  12. Death

Just as it’s important to understand the financial life stage of your members, Clapp says it’s important to understand generational differences. Millennials, for example, want ease of use and accessibility, and Gen X borrowers are concerned about payments and terms, while Boomers have a buy and pay later mentality. The Great Generation is all about saving to purchase.

In communicating with the different generations, Clapp says seniors want you to write them; Boomers want you to call them; Gen Xers want you to email them and Gen Y (or Millennials) want you to text them.

If you aren’t certain about which products and services are of greatest value to your members, Clapp says focus groups can provide greater insight into your members wants, needs and expectations.


Helpful resources: The Cornerstone Credit Union League’s research department offers focus groups, as well as member and non-member surveys. Click here for more information. If you have any questions, please contact Doug Foister, Cornerstone’s director of research, at (469) 385-6477, or e-mail