Millennials are the “mobile-first” generation, meaning financial services professionals who want to reach them will have to make mobile support a priority, according to Corporate Insight.
Corporate Insight released a preview on Friday of its study “The Millennial Shift: Financial Services and the Digital Generation,” which will be available in full on April 29. The study pulled data from various sources including the Pew Research Center, comScore, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo.
The past 20 years have already seen financial advisors shift from serving clients in a branch/telephone-centric model to one that favors computers and websites. According to the report, millennials themselves consider their use of technology a defining characteristic of their generation. They’re more likely to own smartphones than other generations and they’re far more likely to be mobile-only Internet users: 18% say they only use mobile devices to go online.
Furthermore, even among other tech-savvy investors, those with online brokerage accounts, millennials are more likely to use mobile devices to check those accounts: 69% compared with 41% of Gen X and just 30% of boomers.
Corporate Insight noted that mobile advertising allows for customization that traditional methods don’t offer because they can collect data about users' behaviors and how effective the ads are.
While it’s too early to say wearable technology like Google Glass will replace smartphones, millennials have shown they’re interested in new technology. Fidelity and Wells Fargo are already testing “glassware” to take advantage of that shift.
The survey found that some millennials still don’t trust large financial firms. Those who are lucky enough to have money — some are struggling with substantial debt — tend to be conservative with it. “This is where effective financial education can play a powerful role in bridging the gap between brokerage firms and young people,” according to the report. “Good educational content empowers the individual by demystifying the markets and helping them to make better financial decisions. Strong educational resources also enable the investment firm to position itself as a helpful resource to those who are just beginning to learn about investing.”
Corporate Insight found 60% of millennials think it’s very important for their brokerage firm to offer educational resources. However, the report claimed “most retail banks, brokerages and asset management firms do a mediocre job” of educating their clients.
Exceptions to that are Fidelity and TD Ameritrade, according to Corporate Insight. Fidelity uses videos and microsites that feature young people to engage millennial consumers. TD Ameritrade uses an education center that features games where users can complete a quiz to earn points. The report noted that as of now, users can’t do anything with points they earn, but that is expected to change soon.