The Banking Habits

of Professional Millennials
A Bank Clarity Report

What is Bank Clarity?
Bank Clarity is both an approach to financial services
marketing and a division of the Sells Agency.
As an approach, Bank Clarity focuses on helping financial
institutions grow market share and profits by understanding
consumers deeply and then helping our clients present
themselves in a compelling and persuasive way that drives
brand preference.
As a division, Bank Clarity combines decades of financial
services marketing expertise with the results-oriented
capabilities of a full-service marketing firm that has worked
with more than 25 financial institutions in eight states.

Why Professional Millennials?
Millennials do not behave like the generations before them,
and we believe the key to banking growth in the future is
understanding the banking habits of the most desirable
members of this demographic. So, we surveyed hundreds of
Professional Millennials to discover information about their
preferences. We learned:
The banks Professional Millennials use
The accounts they have
Which bank attributes are most important
Loyalty and likelihood to switch
Channel preferences and habits

Methodology: An online survey of 322 bank consumers nationwide,
ages 24-29, with at least two years of college experience, and annual
incomes of $25,000+, from July 3 to July 11, 2014.

Survey audience breakdown:

54%
female

46+54+y

46%
male

Annual household income:

33%

45%

15%

7%

$25,000 to $49k

$50,000 to $99k

$100,000 to $149k

$150,000+

Do Professional Millennials have
more than one bank account?
Younger banking customers are sometimes thought to
be only single-service account holders. However, we were
pleased to discover only a few Professional Millennials fall
into that category, and that the vast majority also have a
savings account with their primary bank.

16%
are single-service
checking account
customers

84%
have a secondary
account with their
current bank

Note: A small number of Professional
Millennials (7 percent) have a
primary account with one bank and a
secondary account with another.

77% of Professional Millennials
have a savings account.

3

What kind of banks are
Professional Millennials using?
We asked very specific questions to gain clearer insight about
which banks Professional Millennials end up choosing. Many of
them continue to bank where their parents did. The majority
seem loyal to the bank they began using while in college and
say they’re unlikely to switch banks in the next six months.

Types of banks used by Millennials

large national banks
large regional banks
large local banks
medium-sized local bank
small local bank
large local credit union
small local credit union
don’t know

55%

15%
6%
6%
5%
6%
7%
2%

63%

37%

still bank where
they did in college.

switched from
their college bank.

Of those who haven’t changed banks since college:

57%
still bank where
their parents do.

4

43%
chose a different bank
from their parents before
or during college.

How likely are Professional Millennials
to switch in the next 6 months?

73% very unlikely
15% somewhat unlikely
8% somewhat likely
2% very likely

Why do Professional Millennials
switch banks?
Of the 37% who switched banks after college, the majority
changed due to disruptive life events. About 1/3 changed
because they were dissatisfied.

29+23+22+1016

moved to a new town without
their current bank’s branches

29
%

got married or began cohabitating

23
%

were unhappy with their college bank

say their college bank didn’t meet their needs
other reasons

22
%
10
%
16
%

When switching banks, which single attribute
most influenced their decision?

25%

said “convenience
of their branches”

55474341382521856
Other primary reasons:

16%

16%

11%

free checking
accounts

it’s where their spouse or
significant other banked

bank was highly
recommended by others

What were all of the other attributes
that influenced their decision?
38%

good mobile banking apps

25%

41%

convenient hours

good recommendations
from others

21%

where spouse or
significant other banked

41%

8%

free use of a large
network of ATMs

5%

43%

enticed by a
special promotion

a previous relationship
with the bank

convenient ATMs

47%

convenience of branches

55%

free checking accounts

6.5%

offered identity protection

How important is a bank’s
network of branches?
We were surprised to learn through this survey that the availability
of bank branches is extremely important to Professional
Millennials, however, many of them only occasionally go inside.
They prefer to bank primarily on a computer or a smartphone.

82%

!

“Very important”
or

of Professional Millennials
answered the number of
bank branches is:

“Somewhat important”

How often do Professional Millennials
go into a primary bank location?
less than once a month
once a month
once a week or
a few times a month

56%

17%

never or not since
opening their account

16%

11%

n

49%
23%

Overall, 49% of Professional
Millennials primarily bank on a
computer and 23% bank primarily
on a smartphone.

7

The Takeaway:
If you want to reach young Professional Millennials, they
should become your customers while in college or during
transitional periods in their lives.
When it comes to marketing, traditional channels — such as
brick-and-mortar branches — still matter. Though they value
access to online and mobile banking, don’t overemphasize
non-traditional channels, while neglecting the traditional
ones, when speaking to this group.

Several times a year, the Sells Agency will conduct research
on topics of interest to financial services marketers. These
research reports will be made available at no cost.
To see previous research or to receive notifications about
future reports, visit bankmarketingclarity.com and click on
“Research Reports.”
If you would like to request a research topic for our Banking
Clarity division, please email your suggestions to
mike@sellsagency.com.