Millennials, those between the ages of 18 to 34, play a significant role in shaping our society, and as consumer behavior continues to change and new trends emerge, banks must better understand this generation to win their business. This younger generation, raised in the golden age of the Internet, have their own views as to what banking relationships should look like. At the end of this year, the population of Millennials will surpass that of Baby Boomers (ages 51 to 69) becoming the largest living generation in the U.S. And it doesn't stop there as this growth trend is expected to peak in 2036 at approximately 81.1 million. The message is clear, the landscape within which financial institutions operate will experience a great deal of change.
Millennials rebel against traditional norms, including banking norms. Consequently, innovative ideas must be proposed and implemented to capture and retain Millennial market share. To achieve this, banks must learn to exist within Millennials' online domain, dominated by smartphones and social media.
In order to provide further insight into the Millennials' perspective on banking, we posed a number of questions to our own RP Financial Millennials - consulting associates who range in age from their early to mid-twenties. Here is what we learned:
What are you looking for in a bank? How can the banking industry serve you better?
Convenience is key - we want a bank that can operate around us, providing relevant products and services that are easily accessible via the internet/smartphones. Speed, transparency and simplicity rank high on our lists: we will revolt against unexplained fees or inefficient services.
How many banks do you do business with, and how often do you change your banks?
We tend to do business with only one to two banks, with little utility for new banking relationships, unless product and service differentiation with regard to online capabilities and mobile applications compel us to switch.
What are your different needs and desires when it comes to financial services?
Our wants and desires differ greatly from those of the generations before us, as we maintain the greatest student debt levels in the history of the U.S. Mortgage loan products are of little interest to us, as student debt has forced us to delay major purchases and we tend to marry later. We are, however, very interested in new credit innovation to address our borrowing needs.
What are your preferred methods of communication?
Our most preferred means of communication are text messaging, emails and social media. We value flexibility and convenience, and would certainly rather deal with our concerns over the Internet than to call customer service or physically visit a branch. We need instant gratification and loathe anything slow, especially letters and signatures and just about anything that requires using U.S. mail or even a laptop computer; we love our cellphones and believe all communication with a bank should go through them.
Which new offerings in financial services excite you?
Mobile payment applications encompass the majority of new financial service offerings we use, most of which have been initiated by technology companies or online retailers. The payment applications we use most frequently include Google Wallet, PayPal and Starbucks.
Which mobile online banking features do you like the most?
Though basic, the ability to view banking transactions electronically remains a popular feature, followed by mobile deposit capture and mobile money transfer capabilities.
In order to attract Millennials, the banking industry needs to actively monitor trends in the market, developing innovative solutions that enable customers to transfer money, manage their accounts and have their questions answered. Optimizing these solutions for personalized customer experiences will be key in attracting and retaining Millennials, as will the accessibility of such services via smartphones, tablets and computers.