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Do Older Generations Actually Prefer to Bank in Person?

Consumers have long been enjoying digital banking. According to data compiled by Comscore and reported in Business of Apps, personal finance and banking are the No. 1 and No. 3 fastest-growing categories, respectively, of mobile app usage. Users of banks and credit unions clearly understand the value in managing their finances on the go. But we’ve also long associated digital banking with younger, more tech-savvy generations. The traditional banking industry tends to bank on the fact that older generations still prefer the in-person experience.

“Many banks and credit unions now find themselves struggling to retain their traditional in-person experiences for seniors while also trying to woo 22-year-olds who prefer mobile account openings and talking to customer service at 2 a.m.,” writes Craig Guillot in an article for The Financial Brand. And the question remains: Do older generations actually prefer to bank in person?

Boomers Are Savvier Than You Think

“Boomers use more technology than many people give them credit for, and their pace of adoption has only increased since the pandemic,” notes Guillot. This makes it crucial for banks and credit unions to assess how user-friendly their digital platforms are for those who didn’t grow up on tech. Now is the time to convert boomers who may have been hesitant in the past, and a great digital banking experience will keep you competitive.

Sure, baby boomers still value physical branches and face-to-face interactions, and BAI research has found that only 35% are comfortable receiving financial advice via artificial intelligence, compared to more than 70% of the other generations. However, some experts argue it’s actually the evolving needs of boomers that will drive future digital banking trends and innovations — that they are the next generation of digital banking end users. As Ron Shevlin of Cornerstone Advisors points out in an article in Forbesbaby boomers need new digital banking services to:

  • Increase security and fight against fraud and cyberthreats
  • Understand how to create and permission account access for family and trusted advisors
  • Develop and integrate online or digital estate-planning tools
  • Manage health care costs and services online

More Boomers Plan to Keep Working

Boomers are more digital in regards to their banking habits than many people think in part because many are still working. In order to stay current with their professions, they need to adopt technology and digital tools. For example, if they have an accounting practice, they most likely incorporate web-based, software-as-a-service technologies and even digital submissions of clients’ tax returns. Increasing comfort with technology in their professions or businesses crosses over to boomers’ personal business needs, too.

Indeed, working is the new retirement; and according to a LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute survey, 27% of pre-retirees plan to work part-time during retirement, and roughly one in five current retirees are working part-time. Therefore, even for part-time work they most likely need to use — and learn — a range of technologies. Further, the complexity of managing different accounts, often on behalf of other family members, requires that boomers embrace digital channels.

As the pandemic subsides and bank branches reopen or resume regular hours, financial institutions need to consider whether and how they wish to keep boomers engaged through banking apps. The pandemic may have triggered an increase in digital banking, but it’s your app’s user experience that will keep users engaged. And emerging opinions indicate that innovating to serve them is worth your time.

Mobile banking app use will continue to grow. The more engaging and relevant the experience, the more likely that consumers (no matter their generation) will maintain their existing relationship with your financial institution.

Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, he covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce and the Internet of Things.


Business of Apps – App Download and Usage Statistics (2020)
The Financial brand – The Pandemic Has Changed How Everyone Banks (And Here’s How)
Forbes – The Next Generation Of Banking Consumers Are Baby Boomers (Not Gen Z)
LIMRA – Transitioning to Retirement: LIMRA SRI Finds 1 in 5 Continue to Work in Retirement