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Financial Pros Just Don’t Get Millennials: Study

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Millennials, born after 1980, will have to save more of their earnings, and over a longer period of time, than their parents.

Yet new research — by millennials, of millennials — finds that financial services providers are not connecting with this generation.

A study released Monday by BNY Mellon and a team of undergraduates from Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford involved 1,178 millennials in seven key markets: the U.S., Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, the Netherlands and the U.K.

In particular, millennials in the study were adamant that they did not want financial institutions to contact them through social media, calling this “silly,” “pally” or “creepy.”

Forty percent preferred to receive information through a website or email, 23% through face-to-face or in-branch contact and 18% through telephone contact, compared with less than 1% of respondents who were amenable to being reached via social media.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents believed that they had not seen financial products targeted specifically to millennials.

What would such products look like?

Seventy-three percent said they would save more if they were rewarded in some way, and 51% said they would do so if their money were not completely locked away.

The researchers recommended that providers investigate ways in which pension products could be structured to deliver limited early access to some portion of the funds held within them — linked, for example, to making a deposit for a home — and lobby governments to facilitate them.

The study revealed that pensions need to be better explained to millennials because 49% agreed that they did not know how they work, with the proportion rising to 61% for those under age 23.

Millennials in Brazil, China and the U.S. had the least knowledge of about how pensions work, while their Australian counterparts were best informed.

In addition, the study found that 52% of millennials turned to their parents for financial advice, followed at a considerable distance by their bank (24%) or a financial advisor (17%).

Messaging is important to millennials, and marketing strategies are missing the mark, according to the study. Researchers said providers had to be credible without being boring, and deliver marketing messages that hard hitting enough to penetrate the media noise to which young adults are subject.

“Insurers and other financial services providers need to reach out to millennials in different ways”, Vincent Pacilio, global insurance industry lead at BNY Mellon, said in a statement. “In the short term, they should identify millennials as a distinct target for marketing activity and find avenues to better equip parents to advise their children.”

In the longer term, according to the researchers, tax relief should be positioned as a reward for saving and used as such.

Check out College Degree a Poor Investment for 25% of Grads: NY Fed on ThinkAdvisor.


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