Millennials, Rural America and Community Banks

This past weekend, my eldest grandchild was graduated from high school. She has dealt with some speech disabilities throughout her life and, as a result, has developed a strong constitution to compensate. I was proud that she was recognized by the faculty for her courage, spirituality and strong work ethic. As I watched this poised young lady traverse the road leading to the graduation ceremony, I could only conclude that she will always do well in life. Courage, spirituality and a strong work ethic are traits that all employers seek. This fall, my granddaughter will be off to college and, like most of us, may change her college major and career interests many times. Whatever she chooses, I believe she will have a leg up on most of the competition because of her aforementioned traits. Admittedly, I am more than a little biased …

As I watched my granddaughter and her classmates parade across the stage to accept their diplomas, I could not help but think that these bright young people are the answer to many of my generation’s concerns about the future of banking. First, as part of the much-discussed millennial generation – larger even than the baby boomers – they will be the depositors and borrowers who will sustain our banks into the future. They also will be the employees who can solve the complicated problems relative to compliance, technology and product development in the not-too-distant future. I am encouraged by the quality of people who make up this emerging generation. They are different than my generation was at the same age. While we wanted to change the world, and not always for the better, this new generation wants quality of life from a work/life balance standpoint, not from financial gain.

A main concern of mine for the future has been the sustainability of rural America. Small, community banks often are the cornerstones of these communities. Could it be that a portion of bright, young millennials will choose to achieve their work/life balance in a serene rural setting? Or will they instead flock to fast-paced metropolitan areas? I am beginning to think that millennials will be less interested in the urban lifestyle than prior generations were. Millennials appear to be happy in groups of like-minded people, and they can rely on technology and social media to stay in touch with their peers who migrate to the cities. If I am right, many of these young people may turn to rural America for the slow pace, fresh air and better work/life balance. If so, this phenomenon would benefit those community banks which struggle to find qualified talent to perform many of the complex tasks required of banks of all sizes and locations today.

While there is no way to foretell what will happen, I hope that rural America becomes the place of choice for millions of young people to live and raise their families. Perhaps my granddaughter and others of her generation will eschew the hectic lifestyle of cities and suburbs and instead seek the tranquility of rural America. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for a courageous, spiritual, hard-working young lady knocking on your door within the next few years. It could be my granddaughter!

S. Joe DeHaven

One Response to Millennials, Rural America and Community Banks

  1. Joe, I certainly enjoyed your article and enjoyed reading about your granddaughter and her wonderful accomplishments. I know you are a very proud grandfather. Sincerely, Barb Calcote Abbott, Advantage Business Solutions, Nashville, TN

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