Why the Financial Services Industry Is Failing the Next Generation

Many young people never seem to begin saving and investing because veteran advisers don’t understand them.

They don’t understand their needs. They don’t understand their culture. They don’t understand how they connect and communicate.

So today we have the great anomaly of the financial services industry: Those who have lots of assets, and often need little advice, can easily find it. Those who need help and advice getting started often find it is impossible to get it.

Part of the problem is the typical adviser, often in his or her 50s and 60s, can’t connect with the younger, tech savvy, generation.

So maybe it is time for some technophobic financial professionals to look for another job.

That’s because millennials, many of whom will be inheriting considerable assets and do everything including invest on their ubiquitous mobile devices, are gravitating to technical financial (FinTech) companies, say financial services executives.

Advisors, they warn, risk missing out on the technological revolution affecting society, their clients and their children, who are expected to inherit trillions of dollars over the next generation.

“If they don’t serve them, they will leave and take the assets with them,” warns Brandon Krieg, one of the founders of StashInvest.

Why will they stop using their parent’s advisors?

A recent report says client demands have changed as those raised on the Internet “expect 24/7 access to information that is readily available via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Financial issues and questions that once required the advice of a certified professional can now be answered with a click on any digitally-enabled device,” according to “The Advisor of the Future” This is a report by Hearsay Social, a company that advises financial companies.

The report also said that about half of all retail transactions—transactions involving an individual, not an institution—will relate to the web by this year. This represents “a potential sales opportunity of almost $2 trillion. In addition, customers will soon be able to search for products via additional technologies, including, voice, and gesture commands,” the report said.

But many financial professionals aren’t keeping up with these changing ways of selling and advising the next generation.

“Advisers are often between the ages of 52 and 56 and when you ask them about their mobile strategy they often don’t understand,” says Jeremy Floyd, president of BPV Capital Management.

“They’ll say that you can reach them from eight to five each business day on their land lines. They don’t even talk about mobile phones,” Floyd complains.

Yet today the new generation of clients do everything on their favorite mobile devices. They include investing, banking and portfolio analysis, according to FinTech executives (See Notes: “What is FinTech?”)

Krieg, a former trader, founded StashInvest because he believes that Wall Street fails young investors as well as everyone else who doesn’t know how to begin saving and investing.

“We want to help those underserved by the industry get started,” Krieg says.

So Stash, which conducts all business with clients through mobile devices, has very small minimums. An account can be opened with $5.

“What’s more important isn’t the initial amount, but that someone makes a commitment to invest on a regular basis,” he says.

How can advisers serve these younger clients who grew up using the net?

They need products and services to be easily available.

“More and more clients need a digital and mobile offering that they can adjust on the fly. Investors want to see their portfolios when they want and where they want,” according to Jason Raznick, co-founder of Benzinga.com.

“They need,” Raznick says, “an easy way to communicate with advisors, be it on the computer or text messaging.

They need to see visuals on how investing is more lucrative with an advisor as opposed to an automated solution.”

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NOTES:

What Is FinTech?

FinTech is a broad term that relates to anything and everything that has to do with money. From online personal lenders, payment processors, credit monitoring, and personal finance management tools, every company is looking to take a piece of a trillion-dollar industry.

In the past five years, there’s been an explosive growth in these FinTech companies. Private FinTech companies have raised nearly $3 billion in the past year, triple of what was raised in 2008 ($930M), according to VentureBeat, a tech innovation news source.

How Tech Change Roils Markets

Change has been a factor going back to cavemen, but its pace now threatens to destroy some slow-moving companies and professionals, says an innovation expert.

“Before change was happening, but it was generational. You could adjust to it. And a business model was, in essence, immortal,” says Bill Hortz CEO of the Tampa-based Institute for Innovation Development. In the 1950s, he noted, the average company stayed in the S&P 500 for 75 years.

“Today it is 14 years and dropping rapidly,” he said. Change is feeding on itself and effects of analytics and artificial intelligence will be expanding. They will dramatically change “client experiences and client interfaces,” Hortz said.

But, for those ready for change, it will be boom times, he noted.
Hortz said one billion sensors will be put on three to five billion products over the next few years.

“They will be talking to each other, creating new products and that, in and of itself, is going to create 17 trillion dollars of new value that doesn’t exist right now,” Hortz said.

But traditional business thinking won’t be able to attract any of these trillions of dollars in new value. He pointed to companies that, using traditional models, thought they knew their clients. Examples of the latter, he added, include Kodak, Blockbuster and Borders,

“They built empires. They knew their customers. They were very successful until it changed,” Hortz noted.

What happened?

They had “no mechanism” to ensure they were effectively coping with change. “They said let’s just focus on what we did last year, get ten percent more and let’s just focus on efficiency.”

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.