Millennials Turn to Online Financial Tools in the Absence of Financial Advisor Assistance

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Joseph Delsoin is a man with a plan.

In the next few years, he envisions himself with his own online company that generates revenue, but for the time being, he is employed as a marketing manager in Manhattan.

“I want more out of life,” Delsoin told MainStreet. “I want to do better.”

He invests in his company 401(k) plan, but he doesn’t stop there. “I invest in an IRA and the stock market,” Delsoin said. “I’ve been online for a long time investing with OptionsExpress.com, which helps me invest in stock options in different markets overseas as well as in the U.S.”

Delsoin is among the 76% of Millennials who use online solutions for advice and the mere 20% who have a plan to achieve financial goals, according to a new study called the Millennial Money Mindset Survey commissioned by iQuantifi.

Although 29% of 30- to 49-year-olds are reporting higher net worth than a year ago, according to a Bankrate study, if more millennials were like Delsoin, the generation overall would be in better financial health.

“Millennials recognize that setting financial goals is important but they’re grasping for ways to reach those goals because they don’t have a comprehensive plan,” said Tom White, co-founder and CEO with iQuantifi, a virtual financial advisor.

Millennial Money Mindset data further found that 59% claim increasing their overall savings was a major goal for the next year, but Millennials often spend too much.

“Where after tax income should be the basis of our consumption and spending, young people aren't often rational and quickly adopt the lifestyle of their parents,” said Craig Lemoine, chartered financial consultant program director at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “You see it on college campuses and access to student loan dollars exacerbates the problem.”

Millennials with a financial plan are few and far between, because the traditional planning service model is not designed to support a younger demographic.

“Most Millennials don’t have enough investible assets to qualify to work with a financial advisor and many are not willing to pay a financial planning fee to get the type of plan they need to address their debt, goals and investments,” White told MainStreet.

A financial plan is important, because it can help young workers pay down debt, save for a vacation, purchase a new house, save for their child’s college and allocate appropriate funds for retirement.

“With credit card debt, student loans and limited assets to invest, this demographic does not fit into the current profit and fee system of traditional advisors,” said White.

With only 29% of respondents saying they have sought out advice from a professional, such as a traditional financial advisor, there is a need for virtual financial advisers to help Millennials set and achieve goals.

“This presents a tremendous opportunity for banks, credit unions and other institutions to attract and retain Millennials by offering goal-based planning services online,” White said.

In addition to Schwab's OptionsExpress.com, websites that can assist Millennials include BillGuard.com, Moven.com and SavedPlus.com.

“We believe in using technology to automate personal finance best practices,” said Brian Cosgray, co-founder and CEO with DoubleNet Pay, a financial wellness app. “An actionable, mobile solution that does the work for employees can decrease stress caused by financial issues, requiring a minimum amount of input from them and enabling them to focus on the more pressing demands of their work and families.”

Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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