Banking on Gen Z, Pt 2

In episode two of our Believe in Banking podcast series on Gen Z banking, Sean and Gina welcome back Adrenaline’s Chief Brand Officer, Juliet D’Ambrosio for part two of their discussion in conjunction with Adrenaline’s “Gen Z and the Future of Finance: A Generational Guide for Banking Leaders.” Armed with knowledge about this myth-busting generation, the three discuss how banks and credit unions are adapting to meet the needs of Gen Z. They provide examples of institutions like UniWyo Credit Union, AMOCO Credit Union and Guaranty Bank that have created updated experiences to engage people throughout their life stages and share meaningful insights about how modern and approachable branch design welcomes in Gen Z into a new banking relationship. Finally, they discuss the importance of branding and how banks and credit unions can lean on their brands to connect with Gen Z and all other generations, as well.

Text Transcription 

Intro: This is Believe in Banking, a podcast series for decision-makers, influencers and leaders featuring experts taking on the financial industry’s most pressing issues with insight and empathy. The podcast features, information and conversations designed to enlighten and empower. Here are your Believe in Banking hosts, Sean Keathley and Gina Bleedorn.

Sean Keathley: Welcome to our Believe in Banking podcast. I’m Sean Keathley, CEO of Adrenaline. In our September episode, we took on the topic of Gen Z and the influencer having on banking and beyond. We brought on Adrenaline’s chief brand officer Juliet D’Ambrosio, to discuss the behaviors and beliefs of this myth busting generation, is highlighted in our new report, Gen Z in the Future of Finance, available on Banking Dive. In the October episode of the podcast, we continue the conversation and discuss how banks and Credit Unions are adapting to the change that Gen Z calls for. We provide examples of successful institutions, and how banks and Credit Unions are creating updated experiences that engage customers when they’re young and follow them throughout all of their life stages. Stay tuned for an enlightening discussion that will help you get Gen Z ready.

Juliet D’Ambrosio: I also go back to the conversation we had with VeraBank around TikTok, and what struck me about that was that they were so interested. The idea is we know we need to fish where the fish are. We need to be part of the conversations where Gen Z are having the conversations, which are channels like TikTok. At the same time, it’s kind of scary to take that leap. How do we do it? What’s the right relevant way for a community bank to show up on a channel like TikTok, let alone newer areas like Twitch, where a lot of people on the bleeding edge, they don’t text anymore. Sean, I’m sure your kids starts on Twitch or Discord, which are the platforms they use of choice. So I was so interested because I thought it was exemplary of probably how a lot of community bankers feel. They know they need to do it, but are unsure how.

Sean Keathley: Well, there’s two points. One, gaming today is a social event. You’re no longer playing Frogger by yourself like your parents did. These are multiplayer games, headsets, talking live to friends, and so the messaging system there has become incredibly popular. The second thing that’s happening is they’re staying ahead of their parents who are device by device and app by app, figuring out how to monitor activity. And these gaming platforms were a great way to message without the parents being able to monitor as well.

Gina Bleedorn: Did you spend a lot of time alone playing Frogger, Sean?

Sean Keathley: No, I wouldn’t say a lot. Minimal. Frogger and Galaga.

Gina Bleedorn: Yeah, I don’t know that.

Juliet D’Ambrosio: The fact that you just said Frogger makes my Gen X heart so happy, Sean.

Gina Bleedorn: So Juliet, at that last point you just made, VeraBank that said, how am I going to target Gen Z?

Sean Keathley: Well, as we get into some examples things we’re seeing, I think it is important to note that with Gen Z, fully, a third of them want to open an account in a branch, versus Gen X, where almost 73% prefer to use the branch for transactions. So this is a massive shift in behavior and that is absolutely impacting strategy and therefore branch design.

Gina Bleedorn: Yeah, so examples of that in practice, one of our clients, AMOCO Federal Credit Union down in Houston, they have just opened a new prototype branch that is very much making a place that’s, yes, a place of business and professional, but also casual and approachable and very hotel lobby-esque with a trendy feel to it where it’s concierge style banking and multipurpose, multifunctional office space. And it is an open concept floor plan. It’s teller pods instead of teller lines, but it’s really creating a new destination and really reframing purpose of a banking space. On the banking side, one of our clients we’ve discussed before, Guaranty Bank in Mississippi, has done something similar where they have created banking spaces with a similar kind of sophisticated but also trendy feel. And they’ve also rolled out ITMs, which they definitely expected to be adopted by younger generations than they were, but surprisingly we’re adopted by all generations once they showed customers how to use them.

So we know that Gen Z is going to be digitally adopting before everyone else, or as soon as everyone else to do basic transactions, which by the way, is what we want them to do. And then another, yet another example of a financial institution, really heavy targeting Gen Z is Credit Union of Texas who has opened a series of high school branches that are run by the students. And so they’re teaching students about financial literacy, financial education, how to use money, how to use TCRs internally, but also how to talk about finances externally. And then they have a great community connected approach where they’re sponsoring amphitheaters. They’ve got a mobile branch that’s out at events like a food truck, and they’re doing things that are where the Gen Z are. And so those are all great strategies for trying to exude values that align with those of the Gen Z generation.

Sean Keathley: You know what Juliet, that reminds me of our client UniWyo Credit Union out in Wyoming. Why don’t you tell that story? I think that would fit very nicely here.

Juliet D’Ambrosio: Yeah. Well, another one of our clients who has positioned their new brand in a way that what I think is really brilliant about it is that it speaks to Gen Z, but it’s also relevant for all of their audiences. And it’s UniWyo Credit Union, which no surprise here it is the University of Wyoming’s Credit Union. When we began working with them, they were a single branch based in Laramie, and they had a very distinct personality and persona that unless you were a member of that Credit Union, you simply didn’t know who they were. And their ethos is one that you were mentioning, Gina, this idea of being more casual, more inviting to the community. One of their key tenants is, “We’re not bankers, so we don’t dress like bankers.” So they dress like students would feel comfortable coming in.

And what’s interesting about the UniWyo brand is that having a repositioned, refreshed brand that elevated their values, their purpose, and their look and feel in a way that was attractive to Gen Z, also helped them grow into new audiences and new markets. When we began working with them, they had a single branch. They have since expanded into Cheyenne and have now successfully merged and to create the second largest Credit Union brand in Wyoming. So this is a case where the brand helped to tell the story that connects the dots between Gen Z and generations before and generations that will come.

Gina Bleedorn: UniWyo has obviously created a member base of college students, but needed to maintain accounts after they left. So they created a new identity, reaffirming their roots in a way that certainly authentically connects with young people, Gen Zs. But they started identifying positions where the brand can deliver on their principles in the member journey’s life stage coming right out of college. So ultimately, it is banking solutions that feel uber relevant at their life stage no matter where they are.

Outro: You’ve been listening to Believe in Banking, a podcast series created to empower decision-makers, influencers, and industry leaders in financial services. Be sure to also join us on our flagship site,