Think tank helps bank reach millennials, Gen Z

March 22, 2018 | GET MORE : Innovation

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Dynamic Dozen reverse mentoring program connects U.S. Bank with next generation of consumers.

Fifteen-year-old Lincoln Roch walked into the branch with two high school classmates and a business plan. 

Together they explained to U.S. Bank Branch Manager Jason Lantzy how, as minors, they felt politically voiceless as education funding eroded in their state and across the country. The Boulder, Colorado students aimed to establish an education-focused, small-donor political action committee with funds raised, in part, by going door-to-door in their community.

“We noticed that education and youth needs are often put last in budgets – especially in Colorado,” said Roch. He added that, seeing the student activism in the wake of the Parkland, Florida tragedy, “It has been incredible to see how people like us can create change.”

They are working with U.S. Bank to set up a bank account for their organization, having initially connected with Lantzy through a tool on the bank’s website that allows consumers to automatically schedule appointments with bankers. To teenagers used to on-demand everything, the feature didn’t raise any eyebrows. For the bank, however, their experience was exactly why it launched the tool. 

Online appointment scheduling was born out of the U.S. Bank Dynamic Dozen, an annual reverse mentoring program in which the bank brings together a group of millennials to help the company better serve the next generation of customers and employees. The group develops a project of their choosing, pitching it to the bank’s executive team at the end of the year. 

Sarah Haase, a reputation manager at the bank, was a member of the 2014 class that pitched appointment scheduling and other digital-first tools. “If we could have looked in a crystal ball, this is what we would have seen. We set out to help future generations bank when, where and how they want.”

That mindset was the impetus behind the program, which former CEO Richard Davis established in 2009 to elevate the voices of millennials, who were just entering the workforce – today they are more than 40 percent of the bank’s 74,000 employees.

Sheri McGrath, employee inclusion director at the bank and a member of the inaugural class, recalls Davis telling the group that “millennials are coming, and they’re going to use our products differently.” 

McGrath and Haase are among 119 bankers who have been a part of the Dynamic Dozen, each selected by a member of the bank’s executive team. As the executive team has added two members, the group has grown to 14 (a “Banker’s Dozen,” perhaps). The bank recently announced the 2018 class, listed below as pictured left to right above:

  • Sauntura Jones – Human Resources – St. Louis
  • Karlee Wallender – Risk Management & Compliance – Portland, Oregon
  • Melissa Gamble – Wealth Management & Investment Services – Boston
  • Mike Blackmon – Law – Minneapolis
  • Jian Hu – Consumer Banking Sales & Support – Hopkins, Minnesota
  • Robert Schell – Finance – Minneapolis
  • Colin Freeseman – Corporate & Commercial Banking – Ames, Iowa
  • Jamie Olson – Corporate Audit Services – Minneapolis
  • Steven Sauber – Risk Management & Compliance – Minneapolis
  • Amy Batchelder – Payment Services – Minneapolis
  • Pat Swanson – Strategy and Corporate Affairs – Detroit
  • Jaimie Orrico – Corporate & Commercial Banking – New York
  • Sammy Wulfekuhle – Technology & Operations Services – Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Matt Haverman – Community Banking & Branch Delivery – Louisville, Kentucky

The program is led by Carolyn Krall, chief customer officer, along with executive sponsors Kate Quinn, vice chair and chief administrative officer, Mark Runkel, executive vice president and chief credit officer, and Tim Welsh, vice chair for consumer banking.

“The pace of change in banking in the last two years has been faster than at any time in decades, and it will never be this slow again,” said Welsh. “To power as much human potential as possible, we need to live by the guiding principles of customer obsession, agility and simplicity. And we must be digital-first to enable all of this.”

Roch and his classmates aim to accelerate the pace of political change, and give generational peers a voice. A voice he said legislators need to start listening to sooner rather than later because, “We have entire lives left to live.”

His advice to banks, meanwhile, is simple.

“Be more online.”