Bye, Bye, Boomers — Banks are Looking Toward Millennials

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(Black millenials)

Sorry, boomers, but the world of banking and insurance isn’t so interested in you anymore. You’re getting too old to buy insurance and too conservative with your investments. And your time horizons are too short to be very profitable to the investment world. The financial services industry is aiming at millennials now.

Many millennials — born between 1982 and 2004 — are well into their careers at this point, ready to invest and use financial advice.

How will the financial services industry reach them? New approaches are required. Millennials are the most tech-savvy (and tech-dependent) group in history. But can they learn the benefits of patient, long-term investing and financial planning? The financial services industry is deep into figuring it out.

The Center for Retirement Research has just published an analysis, concluding that “millennials — despite high education levels — are behind previous cohorts on many indicators that help boost retirement preparedness.” Buried in debt and with memories of financial system losses, “millennials have less wealth than previous cohorts, even though they will need more due to longer lifespans and reduced Social Security.”

But all is not gloomy. Time is on their side, and the financial services industry is gearing up to help millennials change this outlook.

CIT Bank sponsored a holiday survey that headlined millennials as great savers. The survey trumpeted its findings: “A total of 67 percent of millennials and 54 percent of gen X respondents plan to include savings as a goal in the New Year, compared to 27 percent of boomers.” No surprise. Boomers are at the drawing down stage, many well into retirement. Still, it’s nice to know that the banks know where the money is — or potentially is: in the hands of gen X and millennials.

Are millennials taking advantage of their technology superiority?

Intuit, parent company of TurboTax, says not so much. Their new survey finds: “While millennials are the most informed generation and consume information across a range of channels, most cannot pass a basic financial test and feel embarrassed and out of control when it comes to their personal finances.” Other findings:

–Six in 10 millennials are hesitant to discuss their situation with friends because they are embarrassed that they make less money or are ashamed of poor financial decision in their past.

–Only 12 percent of millennials feel very prepared for their financial future.

–Only one-third of millennials feel like they make enough to pay for bills and also save for the future.

TurboTax is coming to the “rescue” by launching Turbo, a new tool that “empowers millennials to take control of their financial situation by bringing together the three numbers that matter most to lenders: verified IRS-filed income, credit score and debt-to-income ratio.”

It’s an app, of course (available at www.myTurbo.com). And although millennials might be embarrassed to share, Turbo also “benchmarks users across categories, including geography, age and life stage, so they know where they stand compared to their peers and can make financial decisions with more confidence,” according to Intuit. Misery truly loves company.

And, speaking of love, the Center for the New Middle Class has released a report on millennials just in time for Valentine’s Day. Their conclusion: “Millennials fight more often with their partners about money than other generations.” Their advice: “Sharpen financial planning skills and use robo-advisers.”

Bank of America has just released its fifth annual Better Money Habits Millennial Report. Their optimistic conclusion: “Millennials are actually just as good, or better, than other generations when it comes to managing money, and they are getting their financial houses in order.” They are “more likely to set savings goals — and a majority meet them. Most millennials feel financially secure — at a level on par with generation Xers and boomers.” Flattery will get you everywhere.

Most millennials feel financially secure.

Just one fly in the ointment. The report says millennials tend to believe the negative stereotypes about themselves — reports about over-spending and bad money management habits.

I’m guessing that millennials are just like every generation preceding them — swayed by the economic environment in which they arrive at maturity. That’s what makes them a great target for the financial services industry.

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