Millennials: Forward-Looking Lessons

Noah Wilcox, a fourth generation community banker from Minnesota, shares his take on the newest, largest customer base: the Millennial generation. Wilcox is the president and CEO at Grand Rapids State Bank and CEO at Minnesota Lakes Bank. You can reach him on Twitter at @NWWilcox.

Forget to pay the cable bill? TV’s overrated. Disregard the forecast before traveling to Minnesota? Unfortunate, but manageable. Put off tomorrow what you could be doing to build your Millennial customer base today? Do so at your own peril.

This digital-savvy, 80 million-strong group of individuals (born between 1977 and 1995) wield a reported $200 billion in annual buying power and are poised to generate the greatest lifetime value of any banking customer (thanks to their numbers and education levels). But will they choose to bank with you? Maybe, according to Visa Market Research and Insights. Seventy-seven percent of surveyed individuals aged 18 to 34 said they are willing to bank at a non-financial services company compared to just 28 percent of individuals aged 56 or older.

At Grand Rapids State Bank we’re hoping to earn their business by tapping into how they want to bank with us so we can help fund their significant lifestyle milestones along the way—first car, first home, first small-business loan.

Take social media, for instance. It’s not just something Millennials ding around with on their phone. It’s a bona fide delivery channel that we’ve leveraged to promote local events, field customer inquiries, and of course, reinforce our brand. These channels need to be cultivated and monitored, for the benefit of this new up-and-coming crop of customers as well as our existing customer base.

This is the generation that witnessed the harsh lessons of their parents about overextending and that now leans toward debit over credit. This is the generation that gave birth to smartphones and tablets, which is why we’re working on deposit accounts that can be opened and funded online. And it’s the generation that, when polled by ICBA about whether they’d rather meet the president of the United States or the president of a local bank, opted for the latter.

Perhaps all of this is a testament to Millennials’ innate desire to start their own businesses. After all, Millennials are by far the most entrepreneurial generation, according to ICBA’s Millennial study, in which 41 percent reported they were “very interested” in starting up their own business and nearly a quarter earned at least part of their income from a business they own or have a stake in.

Or perhaps they’re like 26-year-old Jewel Burks, co-founder of Partpic and featured in Forbes’ 2016 “30 under 30” listing, who said, “The big thing that I want in starting a company is to make a difference in my community.”

Well, if there’s anyone who can reach out and help her and other Millennials do that, it’s a local community banker. After all, she’s already met President Obama.

As for the Millennials I serve, this much I’ve learned: no good deed goes unnoticed. A note greeted me this morning from a customer commending our support for the arts in Grand Rapids, Minn. He was surprised a business would understand the impact of art on the community. I was moved that he would take the time to acknowledge our efforts. So for those wondering if the community bank model resonates with Millennials, I’d say you have your answer.

Still time to Go Local for the Holidays!

Still have a few items left on your holiday shopping list? Don’t panic – you can still find last minute gifts for the pickiest people on your list at a locally owned and operated small business.

Many small businesses that are owned by your very own neighbors offer exceptional products and services that are unique to your area. A lot of these one-of-a-kind items that can only be found in person at local stores make for great gifts year-round – even for that hard to please mother-in-law or particular niece!


What is your favorite local purchase you’ve made this holiday season? Tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter by using the hashtag #GoLocalHolidays.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit

Go Local Wednesday

Need to find the perfect ugly sweater or want treat the kids to dinner out? Plan to shop or dine local TODAY to celebrate Go Local Wednesday!

Today, ICBA employees, community bankers and consumers from across the nation will visit locally owned and operated small businesses and restaurants to support community entrepreneurs. Share your photos with us at @ICBA on Twitter and use the hashtag #GoLocal.

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Can’t get enough of shopping, dining and banking locally? You don’t have to limit yourself to just today! ICBA will continue to host Go Local Wednesday on the third Wednesday of every month throughout the year.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit

Community banks: Keep it local for the holidays

It’s time to deck the halls and join ICBA in going local for the holidays! If you are a community banker looking to spread the holiday cheer and Go Local Holidays message, there are tools such as marketing ideas, a customizable op-ed and additional resources at ICBA’s Go Local site.

Does your community bank do something special during the holidays? Citizens Bank of Kansas and the First National Bank of Trinidad do. To read their stories, visit ICBA’s Go Local page.

Think your bank has a great holiday story to share with ICBA? Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter using the hashtag #GoLocalHolidays.

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Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit

Quail Creek Bank Launches Mobile Features

Wouldn’t it be great to always have access to your money and know when you can splurge on a new sweater? What about depositing checks on the go or transferring money to your friend who covered your lunch tab?

With technology advancing and becoming more embedded in daily life, executives at Quail Creek Bank in Oklahoma City, Okla., saw the writing on the wall and sought a service to help customers bank on the go. Enter LINQ, a suite of various financial services that provides a unique, local banking experience when customers aren’t able to make it into the branch.

With more than 70 percent of the U.S. adult population owning a smartphone and more than 50 percent of smart phone users with bank accounts using mobile banking in the last 12 months, Quail Creek realized they needed to offer customers 24/7 mobile access to their accounts. They also became the first community bank in Oklahoma to offer an app for Apple Watch users.

Quail Creek Vice President of IT and Communications Duggan Roberts said the creation of LINQ came from an internal discussion with the community bank’s digital team, which saw a need for a mobile app and started the development process. The app, which is available for iPhones and Android devices, offers person-to-person payments, mobile banking and deposit, budgeting resources and other features, and it is updated frequently to keep up with changing technology and customer requests as they occur. Roberts said he believes having a strong digital presence will help attract the next generation of customers.

Just because Quail Creek is embracing its techy side, don’t assume it means this community bank is forgetting its roots of relationship banking. If anything, it strengthens them. “We’re offering the tools so customers can access their accounts from anywhere,” Roberts said. “But a lot of customers will still stop by to say ‘hi’ to the staff at our one branch in Oklahoma City.” This shows that they still value the relationship side of banking, even with the added convenience of technology such as LINQ, he said.

Whether someone is attending the University of Oklahoma or traveling hours away to visit grandchildren, Quail Creek is making sure all of its customers can continue to bank locally—even if they are away from home or simply on the go.

Show off your Main Street photos

Think your Main Street is the best decorated around? It’s time to share the holiday spirit with others and show off your festive downtowns. ICBA’s third annual Main Street Holiday photo contest is still accepting nominations. The winner will receive $300 for a local charity of his or her choice.

Check out last year’s winner, Town and Country Bank from Kentucky.


So let’s see what sets your community apart from others around the nation. Nominations are accepted through this afternoon and the top five photos will be available to vote on ICBA’s Facebook page.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit

Go Local for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again where jingle bells are ringing, holiday decorations are lining the streets and children are making their lists and checking them twice. That’s right – it’s time to Go Local for the Holidays!

ICBA is encouraging consumers to Go Local for the Holidays this year by shopping, dining and banking locally. When you patron small businesses, you are putting $68 of every $100 back to work in your local economy. With an estimated 28 million small businesses in the US, there is bound to be a variety of locally owned and operated business close by in your area.

Plan to share a little holiday cheer by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs this season. Since more than 90 percent of consumers believe it is important to support the locally owned and operated small businesses they value in their community, you won’t be the only one making spirits bright on Main Street this year.

Want to find out more about ICBA’s Go Local initiative and how community banks support local small business throughout the year? Visit