By Xav Harrigin
Digital, Sustainable, Local: Why Gen Z is Banking with Community Institutions
In today’s digital age, understanding Gen Z’s banking preferences is paramount. As the banking sector undergoes significant transformation, community banks are at the forefront, adapting and evolving to cater to the unique needs and expectations of Gen Z.
Understanding Gen Z Banking Preferences
Generation Z, with their digital-first mindset, is reshaping the banking landscape. Their inclination towards mobile banking, as highlighted by a study from Morgan Stanley Research and AlphaWise, showcases their tech-savvy nature. With Millennials and Gen Z forming the largest generational demographics in the U.S., as noted by Forbes, they are driving a shift towards digital solutions in banking. Insider Intelligence’s projections further emphasize this trend, estimating that by 2023, a staggering 33.7 million Gen Z consumers will adopt mobile banking. Amidst these changes, community banks, renowned for their transparency and community engagement, are strategically positioned to meet Gen Z’s evolving banking preferences.
Deep Roots in Community Engagement
Community banks have always been integral to local economies, playing a crucial role in the U.S. financial system. The FDIC’s 2023 report accentuates the significance of these banks, especially in their contributions to small business owners, farmers, and rural communities. Despite facing challenges, as highlighted by the St. Louis Fed, community banks continue to thrive, offering tailored services and fostering trust and belonging, attributes often overlooked by big banks.
Genuine Commitment to Sustainability
Sustainability is more than just a buzzword for community banks. The FDIC’s 2020 Community Banking Study and a case study by S&P Global emphasize the genuine efforts of community banks in adopting sustainable practices. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions to conserving natural resources, community banks are setting themselves apart, making them a top choice for those who prioritize environmental responsibility, especially Gen Z.
Investing with Purpose
The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) underscores the growth of the sustainable investment industry, now valued at an impressive US$35.3 trillion. Insights from Morgan Stanley’s Sustainable Finance Summit further highlight the increasing demand for sustainable investments. Community banks, with their deep community ties, are uniquely positioned to tap into this trend, offering investment options that align with Gen Z’s ethical and environmental considerations.
Financial Literacy with a Twist
Promoting financial literacy has always been a priority for community banks. Initiatives by the American Bankers Association Foundation, coupled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2019 Financial Literacy Annual Report, showcase the dedication of community banks in providing comprehensive financial education. By integrating ethical and sustainable principles, community banks offer a holistic approach to financial literacy.
Making a Local Difference
Community banks are synonymous with local impact. A nationwide survey by ICBA Morning Consult Intelligence and data from USAFacts highlight the positive sentiment and significant financial influence of community banks. Their commitment to local initiatives, genuine connections, and community growth sets them apart in the banking sector.
As community banks continue to adapt and innovate, they are set to play a pivotal role in the future of banking, especially in catering to Gen Z’s preferences. Their unique blend of traditional values, innovative approaches, and genuine commitment to sustainability and community engagement positions them as the ideal financial partners for Gen Z.