Myth 7: Millennials are all the same, with similar investing attitudes and behaviors. Urban millennials are more likely than rural millennials to have taxable investment accounts; whites are more likely to have them than African-Americans. Thirty-three percent of male millennials are very confident in their financial decisions vs. 23% of female millennials.
Recommendation: Forget a one-size-fits-all approach. Develop models that meet the needs of an average investor.
Myth 6: Millennials gravitate toward electronic communication and robo-advisors. Fifty-eight percent of millennials prefer face-to-face interactions with a financial profession, not unlike the preferences of Gen Xers (58%) and baby boomers (60%), and 46% of millennials have little interest in robo-advisors.
Recommendation: Integrate user-friendly platforms alongside human advice in a cost-effective and customized way.
Myth 5: Millennials overestimate the investable assets needed to work with a financial advisor. Twenty percent of millennials believe there is no minimum; 60% believe $10,000 or less is enough for an advisor to work with. Nearly half don’t know what advisors charge. When asked, 77% guessed 5% of AUM.
Recommendation: Consider lower-fee options for new investors or other innovative fee structures; explain your fees.
Myth 4: Millennials are skeptical of the financial services industry and financial professionals. Nearly three-fourths of millennials working with a financial professional are very satisfied with them. Only 15% of millennials not working with one cite lack of trust as a reason.
Recommendation: Take the time to educate millennials and demonstrate that your clients’ interests are paramount to earn their trust. The global financial crisis is not top of mind for them.
Myth 3: Millennials are overconfident in general and probably about investing as well. Only 21% of non-investing millennials and those with only retirement accounts are very confident about their investing decisions. Nearly half of millennials with taxable investment accounts are not fully confident making investment decisions.
Recommendation: Try boosting millennials' investor confidence and help give them a sense of control. They are no do-it-yourselfers and ideally want an advising relationship that’s like a partnership in which they share responsibility for making financial decisions.
Myth 2: Income and debt are the biggest barriers to investing. On the contrary, thirty-nine percent of millennials without taxable investment accounts say lack of knowledge is a critical barrier, even though 42% report talking with their parents about investing before they turned 18 (vs. 29% of Gen Xers and 21% of baby boomers).
Recommendation: Provide a holistic approach to advice, with assistance on a range of financial issues, such as budgeting and debt in addition to investing. Millennials want a teacher more than a friend in their financial advisor.
Myth 1: Millennials have lofty financial goals. The top three goals of millennials without taxable investment accounts: not living paycheck to paycheck, the ability to pay monthly bills on time and to save for unexpected expenses. Only 17% don’t expect to ever retire because they can’t afford it, and most expect to retire at 65. Only 24% view buying a home a priority, compared with about 45% of Gen Xers and baby boomers.
Recommendation: Help millennials achieve smaller, more immediate financial goals while helping them develop knowledge and good habits. Retirement may never be a priority for some millennials.
(Related: 7 Differences Between Roth and Traditional IRA Investors)
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the CFA Institute have just released a new study that should probably be required reading for any advisor wanting to attract millennial clients.
The study, Uncertain Futures: 7 Myths about Millennials and Investing, dispels many popular beliefs about how millennials view financial advisors, robo-advisors and the financial industry in general as well as their purported financial and life goals and investment behaviors. Along with the smackdown are its implications for advisors who want to appeal to potential millennial clients, which we’re calling “recommendations.”
The study, conducted by Zeldis Research, is based on responses from 1,814 millennials who were part of an online panel of individuals convened by Research Now, which also surveyed roughly 500 Gen Xers and 500 baby boomers.
It dismisses popular myths about millennials, which often focus on how they differ from baby boomers and Gen Xers when it comes to their financial goals and attitudes toward investing and financial advice. Millennials are often not that different from older generations and, like all generations, there are myriad differences among them, including their approaches to investments and advice.
Check out the gallery above to see seven popular myths and how advisors can work better with millennials.
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