OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Helping My Parents with Banking and Observing Their Behavior

Before I moved for grad school, I would occasionally help my parents with their banking and observe their behavior.

Photo of Brian Hui
6 5

Written by

Back home, before I moved for grad school, I would occasionally help my parents (both 60+) with their banking as well as accompany them for one reason or another. What I helped with mostly was paying bills.

Paying Bills

When they got their credit card bills in the mail from the bank, they would usually look over the line items to make sure there are no suspicious charges on there. My mother would sometimes even double check with the receipts she kept if she couldn't remember what the charge was or if the name was strange on the bill. I remember once when I saw them doing this, I asked, "Why do you still get paper bills and check them when you can do it whenever you want online?" My mother still hasn't gotten the hang of using the internet and online services yet so her answer was expected when she replied that she wasn't comfortable with using online services. Two of the biggest reasons she listed was that she can't remember her passwords and that she still doesn't really fully trust doing sensitive stuff like banking online. My mother has tried online banking before but she finds the interface too complicated and has since forgotten her password for online access.

My father, on the other hand, sometimes checks his online accounts, but for his credit card from another bank, he still uses paper. I've told him he can pay that bill online but he is used to writing a check for the bank and having my mom or myself go to the bank to pay them via bank teller. My father thinks that technology is great but still prefers to do things (such as banking) in-person to minimize risk.

Bank Interactions

Sometimes, I would accompany my mother to the bank. She still likes going to the teller to ask questions and do things like pay bills and such. She has told me before that this is because it is more personal, and sometimes they can help her with her problems better as she prefers the face-to-face contact and finds that she understands people better this way. When I go to the bank with my father, he knows the lay of the land, he usually goes to the teller for most of his transactions or his financial adviser. He also prefers face-to-face interactions as it reduces risk and allows for a more personal connection.

Key Points

For me, these key points appeared through helping my parents and also observing their behavior at banks.

  1. My parents love the personal connection of face-to-face interactions. They feel like it allows them to get more done while minimizing risk.
  2. They (especially my mother) are open to using online interfaces if it wasn't so complicated.
  3. My parents love to see consistent service and do get disappointed if banks cut hours/staff. My mother especially doesn't like that they are pushing her to online more.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Besides having simple and easy online solutions to help those technologically challenged, we should keep in mind that consistency is also important to those aged 50+. We should also not be forcing people to use online services if they are not comfortable with it. However, who knows, maybe the people that are not using online services are also finding it difficult to use or forgot their passwords!

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a graduate student at New York University studying Integrated Digital Media. Previously, I've had two years of experience in the architecture industry in Vancouver, CAN as a Marketing Coordinator.

Specifically, please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!

6 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Nicole Lopez-Conti

Hi Brian,

Great insight here. I noticed that you noted your parents are 60+. I feel like the generation in their 50s and the generation in their 60s can be worlds apart in terms of behaviors- but I could be very wrong.

I wonder, did you notice the same themes when they were in their 50s (preferring face-to-face for non-banking dealings, some trouble with details such as passwords etc.)?

Thanks for these insights,

Nicole

Spam
Photo of Brian Hui

Hi Nicole! I didn't really start paying attention to their banking behaviour until I myself started paying bills and doing banking more (6-7 years ago). Though I can't quite remember all of their 50s, I do know that they did their banking primarily in person. When online banking started gaining popularity, my father also adopted faster than my mother, utilizing online occasionally. He still uses it occasionally.

My mother had to be to taught the "Internet Basics" by my brothers and I, helping her setup things like her email and Facebook. My mother didn't really use the internet for banking until my aunt (her sister) helped her out. Even now, she has troubles with her passwords and so I usually keep them locked in an app on my phone to help her out. Though, before I left, I also set it up on her phone so she only had one password to remember!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton

Thank you for your post, Brian! Have your parents used the same for a number of years or do they regularly switch banks? Do they know the tellers by name/face?

Spam
Photo of Brian Hui

Thanks Kate! For as long as I can remember, my parents have been using the same banks. They are satisfied with their banks thus far. One of the reasons I think they haven't switched is because the locations they go to are either very close to home or very close to work. I believe my mom knows one or two. My dad has also told me that he does know a couple of the regular tellers at his bank in addition to the family financial adviser.

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Brian for the post and this extra information. Nice point about the loyalty that comes from convenience and habits. Great insights in your post in particular this tension between trust / safety, habits and perceived burden of the technology (e.g. passwords). I personally can relate to the passwords issue: not only for banking but for banking specifically. For one of my account, I need to use a little device to generate a pin and this is a pain. I need to get the device and I tend to check this account less because of this. 

Spam
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks Brian for the post and this extra information. Nice point about the loyalty that comes from convenience and habits. Great insights in your post in particular this tension between trust / safety, habits and perceived burden of the technology (e.g. passwords). I personally can relate to the passwords issue: not only for banking but for banking specifically. For one of my account, I need to use a little device to generate a pin and this is a pain. I need to get the device and I tend to check this account less because of this.