Why don’t banks target the younger generation any more?

Midland's Griffin from the 1980s

If you grew up in 1980s Britain, you’ll easily recognise the above yellow figure. The Griffin was the embodiment of Midland Bank (later to become part of HSBC).

One of the big selling points of Midland – if you were a kid – was the chance to join the Griffin Savers Club. It was a basic savings account, but you got a free sports bag, dictionary, file and more when you signed up.

First out of the blocks a couple of years earlier, Natwest also tried to encourage the youth of the 80s to become customers by launching their Piggy Bank scheme – the more money you saved, the more piggy banks you got.

As my generation grew up, the same banks tried to encourage us to upgrade to a full-on Student Bank account using a free Young Person’s Railcard or HMV vouchers as incentives.

What’s changed since the 80s?

It’s safe to say these were successful. Everyone I knew had at least one of the savings accounts – if not both.

Admittedly, lots of people used a black marker to cover up the Midland Bank logo on their sports bag, but the lure of free stuff and your very own bank card you could use to withdraw money was high.

Fast forward 30-odd years and where are the similar attractions for kids of the Teenies?

A non-bank affiliated option called GoHenry has been around for a while – it allows family to pay in regular money to an account, and the young person has a pre-paid contactless card to use.

Saving to spending

What’s clear, though, is that there has been a change in societal attitudes to personal finance. Savings accounts (not just because interest rates are so low) appear to be no longer attractive to either the banks or the kids of 2018.

Now, it’s all about how to spend your money, rather than save.

Most banks offer specific accounts aimed at 11-18-year-olds, but the incentives are almost non-existent.

There’s no obvious reason for Generation Z to get an account, other than because it’s easier than stuffing your cash under the bed.

What will change?

Although Griffin Savers are long gone, the habits they encouraged for many in the 80s has remained. As the likes of Monzo and Starling develop – focussing on a digital first society – surely it’s time for someone to focus on teens and hook them into managing their money in a way that works for them?

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