Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.


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Hazing the ME ME ME Generation

Time Magazine 2013 - ME ME ME

Growing up, my dad had a sticker on his music entertainment center that read, “If It’s TOO LOUD, You’re TOO OLD!”  What it didn’t say is that if I tried to play Tupac, my dad would turn it off and say it sounded like “just noise,” that my generation was trying to pass as music.  When I got older I asked him if his parents thought the same of his rock and roll music, he just laughed and reluctantly agreed.  The point is each generation seems to look down on the one following, like one brother would treat his younger one.

Millenials are a very popular topic right now. Back in May, Time Magazine ran a cover that read: The ME ME ME Generation. Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.  Why they’ll save us all.    Here are some quotes from Time Magazine:

“What worries parents, teachers and employers is the latest crop of adults want to postpone growing up. At a time when they should be graduating, entering the workforce and starting their own families, the 20-something crowd is baulking at those rights of passage.  Companies are discovering to win the best talent they must get a young workforce that is considered overly sensitive at best and lazy at worst.  They would rather hike in the Himalayas then climb a corporate ladder. They have trouble making decisions.  A reluctance to embrace the dying work ethic of the former generation left this generation sounding like whiners,”  echoed Brad Karsh of JB Training Solutions on his very informative webinar (for which I base this post) on Millennial Retention at work.

Here is the funny thing, it’s not from the time magazine above, dated May, 20, 2013; It’s from this Time Magazine below, dated July 16, 1990.

Twentysomething 7-16-1990

I think we like to haze the new generation. It would seem that it has become a time honored tradition. If you back a little farther, say 1985 (Newsweek – The Video Generation), you find complaints about how this generation is so obsessed about taking videos of themselves and a decade earlier in the New York Magazine in 1976,  where it talks about the baby boomers and the “Me Decade”.

Newsweek-NewYork-Millenials

While every one is quick to focus on the here and now and what technology is doing to the current generation, one needs decades of perspective before just calling the current generation selfish with eyes out just for ME ME ME.  In the end it’s partly the culture to blame, making each generation seem so selfish.  Pop culture cultivates an entitlement mentality by steering kids towards immediate rewards. This immediate reward makes it easier for marketers and advertisers to forgo the work of the relationship they could foster.  All we try to do to help is create rules, but rules without a relationship lead to rebellion from a good financial foundation amongst other things.

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Financial Education: A Bank Do-It-Yourself Project

Me at CV1

Repping my Brass T-Shirt during a financial education discussion at my alma mater, Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, OR

Benjamin Franklin said, “An Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), furthered this sentiment with bankers at the American Bankers Association’s annual convention on Monday, when he told bankers to “push for financial education for young people at the state level in order to bring up a new generation of responsible borrowers.”

This is all well and good, but how many times do speakers stand up in front of a crowd and inspire them, yet only give very general and unspecific solutions?  I would say most of the time.  Here, Cordray went on to say that, according to a recent article by Philip Ryan, an Associate Editor of Bank Innovation; “Financial responsibility, fostered by education, is far better. Bankers should realize, however, that not all participants in the financial system will receive financial education in the home, and that, therefore, an effort must be made to get this education into the schools so that young people learn the virtues of saving and responsible borrowing early in life.” This may still seem general and unspecific, but it’s a start.  The solution lies within the commitment of the banks.

There is a very specific solution, but it only comes from consistent action.  At Brass we have one such solution; the Brass Student Program, but don’t think we are the only one.  If anything it serves as an example of a program that works by creating a stronger relationship between the bank and local high schools. When looking into other programs or when you are looking to create one yourself, make sure you understand that, for a bank, there are NO SHORTCUTS to being involved yourself.  This is not like doing a home project yourself to save money.  Curing this problem comes down to relationship building, something that was stressed every hour of every day when I was a banker. I think millennials are starving for banks to put in more authentic time with them to foster a relationship and to help them with money, as seen in this short case study of 6 young adults.

American Author Napoleon Hill once said, “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ” So if you, as a bank, are really serious about relationships, make sure the only shortcut you take is not waiting half your life before realizing the obvious…with help of course.