Millennials will invest: they just don't always want to go to an office, send emails or use the voice function on their phone to do so.
Capital One Investing’s Financial Freedom surveys found that when there are market fluctuations, 77% of Millennial investors overwhelmingly would prefer to receive advice from an advisor than a website or app. That said, 75% also feel that technology plays an important role in helping them effectively plan and manage their retirement (compared to 65% of Generation X and 61% of Baby Boomers) and thus prefer creating a portfolio by going to a website or using an app on their own.
That's in line with findings from Corporate Insight, a market research firm for the financial services industry, whose study titled The Millennial Shift: Financial Services and the Digital Generation found that Millennials tend to value both the convenience of technology and the security of a known, trusted advisor. Seeing your parents' savings crushed by the financial crisis and being saddled with both debt and low-paying jobs right out of school will do that to you.
”Millennials put a high value on transparency and are wary of financial institutions, particularly when it comes to ambiguous fees or pricing,” says James McGovern, Corporate Insight's vice president of consulting services. “They also have very high expectations in terms of online and mobile services that many firms do not meet today.”
As we've mentioned, Millennials expect those they invest with to be socially responsible, and they really can't stand institutions that they feel are out to cheat them. They also don't want to have to sit in front of a laptop or an antiquated desktop to manage their portfolio.
For 18% of Millennials, smartphones are the only point of access to the Internet, compared to 5% of Generation X and 3% of Baby Boomers, according to Corporate Insight. Those dinosaur laptops and desktops that are about 20% of connected devices? They're going to be just 13% by 2017, with tablets alone taking 16.5% of the market and smartphones absorbing 70%.
Unfortunately, financial institutions and financial services firms are having a hard time getting to the 69% of Millennials already accessing financial services through smartphones because they just keep pushing long-range plans. Instead of easing Millennials into saving for a vacation, a house or a family -- short-term plans that might match their current wariness of markets -- banks would rather shove them into retirement plans they have no current use for. They're also not giving Millennials the guidance they're looking for. Roughly 60% of Millennial investors say it's important that their firm give them some educational advice on the basics of investing, according to Corporate Insights. A full 70% of Millennials wish they learned basic investing in school, while only 19% of high net worth Millennials state that they have a high-level of financial and investment knowledge.
Those institutions need to change their thinking, and quick. A survey last year by BNY Mellon found that 19% of U.S. Millennials do not receive any information finance through their workplace or financial firm. Though 91% want to know the “stark reality” of their post-retirement finances, roughly 46% of Millennials have to take a “blind guess” to fund their retirement rather than basing their estimate on financial data. Another 42% are taking a somewhat more sound “educated guess.”
That should make financial advisors and financial services firms shudder not only because of the potential consequences for that generation, but because of what it might mean for their industry. Household assets projected to increase to more than $140 trillion by 2030, which would be $240 billion in wealth management fees, according to the Deloitte Center for Financial Services. However, Baby Boomers’ share of net household wealth will peak at 50% by 2020 and decline, while Generation X will jump from 14% of total net wealth this year to nearly 31% by 2030. Meanwhile, Millennials will account for a little for less than 20% of individual wealth in 2030.
“Without a new approach, we face a real risk that the Millennial generation will become Generation Lost – lost both to the financial services industry and in terms of its own readiness for retirement,” adds Vincent Pacilio, global head of the insurance client segment at BNY Mellon. “Millennials say they want more meaningful engagement with insurers and other financial services providers and to be told the truth about how poor they may be in retirement if they do not start saving early. They are ready to hear more confrontational, honest and realistic messages about the challenges they face in providing for their retirement.”
According to Deloitte's survey, consolidating tax, retirement and estate planning -- and adding starter services like robo-advisors -- would be particularly helpful. The digital advisory options, or robo-advisors, use a computer algorithm to build a low cost portfolio that charges fees as little as 0.5% of total assets a year. Given that Corporate Insights found that one of the biggest qualms Millennials have with financial institutions is hidden fees, starting them off with a low-cost option may be a good way to introduce them to the process.
“Those offerings tend to be lower cost, somewhat education-based and still ultimately guide you towards and advised solution,” says Greg Vigrass, president and chief executive of Folio Institutional. “The ongoing updates and maintenance of the portfolio strategy is still under the direction of of advisors, so what you end up with is a lower-cost, easier access point for investment advice.”
Also, if there are transaction fees involved in that service -- or even with a hybrid service -- Corporate Insights says that needs to be spelled out up front. Provide numbers, chart the data, make it easy to read and access and make it something they can understand without talking to anyone. Make it so their physical advisor is someone they only see every quarter or so, if that. Also, if you firmly believe they should start saving for retirement at 24 -- as GoBankingRates and J.P. Morgan do -- you should be offering online planning tools, mobile access and features like auto escalation that will show a young client how to meet their goals.
“High student debt, low job security and low global growth mean Millennials face a different set of financial challenges than the Baby Boomers and Generation X,” said Paul Kelly, a graduate from Cambridge Judge Business School and joint-lead researcher for the study. “It is therefore crucial that financial services providers understand how they can empower Millennials to save for their retirement.”