NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Millennials are more likely than previous generations to turn to social media to make their financial decisions, relying on smartphones and tablets, and banks need to adjust their structures to accommodate -- and profit from -- that trend.
Many of the biggest names in marketing and finance are coming together to discuss how to attract and convert the coveted millennial demographic, most recently at the annual LinkedIn FinanceConnect conference in New York.
"Our whole approach is, How do you show up in a useful way to an audience that's very demanding and very smart?" said Denise Karkos, chief marketing officer at TD Ameritrade (AMTD). "Frankly, if you solve for millennials, you solve for everybody."
About half of millennials prefer to do independent research before contacting a financial adviser, according to a LinkedIn (LNKD) and Ipsos (IPS) study published Thursday. That compares to 42% of those surveyed in Generation X. And many banks and financial institutions are increasingly turning to social media to educate, advertise, and establish trust.
"One in five millennials think that their social networks will be the hub of all their financial decisions," said Donna Sabino, senior vice president of Ipsos.
Merrill Lynch's head of wealth management, John Thiel, has maintained an active LinkedIn blog on financial advice. The latest series on this is entitled, "The Test I'll Never Forget," and centers on ways to avert career blunders. "I'm very involved with it," he said. "It's my message. It's my point of view."
In the wake of the financial crisis and ensuing bailouts, millennials have developed a general distrust of Wall Street, yet a strong affinity for social media, according to Marty Willis, chief marketing officer at OppenheimerFunds. "Technology is a very trusted industry. It's more trusted than financial services," she said.
Millennials also are more likely to seek personal finance decisions on social media, according to the study. And while they seem to be pessimistic on the outlook for established finance companies, they are bullish on the economy, with 67% having faith in the "American Dream."