November 12, 2021

I was listening to Brené Brown recently and I was struck when she said, “You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors." It seems obvious, but it did dawn on me that we don’t talk to all of our clients about the way we talk to customers and prospective customers.
We also only really talk with clients in the web building process about how their website should – at a minimum – address the commonly asked questions their customer service teams receive. This is because if someone is bold enough to ask that question of a real person, it means they’ve likely searched it a half dozen times.

I say “bold” because to ask a question in person despite all the interactions we see in this digital world is out of the norm. Asking a simple question on almost any social media platform can lead to teasing, and sometimes hurtful, comments. The stereotypes between generations (as well as income levels, socio-economic etc.) can also make asking questions in person very challenging. People have spent most of their lives being rewarded for not asking questions, and instead for having the answers. How often have you witnessed, or even thought, “ugh, how do they not know this?”. A seemingly innocuous question can be met with sarcasm or frustration. We recently had a conversation about this very thing with the president of a bank who found that his son had not deposited a check for over a month because he didn’t know the disclaimer that needed to be written on the back and was too embarrassed to ask.

Financial institutions (FIs) are often run by older generations who witnessed their parents' balance checkbooks, took home economic courses and, more often than not, handled physical cash. This experience gives you a vastly different understanding and perspective on finances. Meanwhile, Gen Z and Millennials often did not have home economics classes, checks were replaced with debit cards and online banking, and cash is rarely carried. Does this mean that Gen Z and Millennials are what the stereotypes paint them to be? Of course not! But to connect with them better, FI’s simply cannot assume that everyone knows about banking products.

FIs have an incredible opportunity – and I’d argue a duty – to educate their communities. Sorry to say, this isn’t only through blogs, but really through bite-sized content. Younger generations are a product of their environment. They were raised in a digital-first era, so you cannot expect them to read a buckslip or go to a meeting with a credit counselor. Of course, that’s a broad generalization as there will be plenty who do, but to ensure you’re reaching the masses, this means an evolution of the forms of content we get comfortable with as FIs.


  • Tried and true, but avoid an essay format, instead break this up in lists, fun visuals and easy to remember takeaways. 


  • Everyone loves videos, but it’s easy to do video incorrectly. To relate, we need to break the stereotype of what bankers are! This means ditching the tie and office, and speaking to the camera as if you’re talking to a friend. Sure, if you’re bold, go ahead and try to dance it out, but with today’s video-editing tools, even a novice user can add text to help highlight key points. 

Static Visuals 

  • Think infographics, or even simple graphics, that explain concepts in an easy-to-understand way. 

Here at Pannos, we often throw around the phrase "explain it like I'm five." This isn't because we think someone isn't smart enough to understand, but when you're learning something new, you need to be able to explain it in terms that make sense to everyone. How confused would you be if I started talking about cross-domain attribution and conversion tracking without explaining it? That's how younger generations feel when they're faced with choosing between a CD or money market.

At the end of the day, the digital age and social media has led to a lot of connections and wonderful things, but also a lot of shame. The financial industry is not immune to this. But as they say, there is no time like the present – so let’s change the conversation with Gen Z and Millennials. Let them know that FIs are ready to answer the unasked – and asked - questions in a way that they understand, but without being condescending, and to be a true partner to help them find long-term financial success.