Dear Energy Santa: A Wish List from Your Millennial Customers

Dear Energy Santa

‘Tis the season when your loved ones ask what you need (or, in my case, your kids proclaim what they want)! In the spirit of gift-giving, we penned a letter to Energy Santa with our “wish list” of energy-related products and services. The ideas are based on results from our 2016 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™ study, and although they apply to energy consumers in general, we’re focusing on the group nearly every company hopes Santa will deliver—Millennials.

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Answer Before They Ask: How to Message Millennials

Banking & Millennials Series: Part 3

Editor’s Note: For banks struggling to establish relationships with Millennials, “Banking & Millennials” is a three-part blog series that explores the savings/investing potential of this group, exposes why popular stereotypes are dead wrong and suggests a roadmap for setting your bank apart from the competition. This is the third and final installment.   

People are communicating constantly—on every conceivable channel and with astonishing frequency—making omnichannel marketing essential for nearly every industry. Banking is no exception. Banks need a presence in heavily trafficked mediums to ensure maximum reach, especially considering that one of their primary target audiences is Millennials. This group is never without their smartphones and consumes content from dawn to dusk. But what is the value of your omnichannel reach if your message is all wrong?

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Miley, Megan and Mike: Do You Know Your Millennials?

Banking & Millennials Series: Part 2

Editor’s Note: For banks struggling to establish relationships with Millennials, “Banking & Millennials” is a three-part blog series that explores the savings/investing potential of this group, exposes why popular stereotypes are dead wrong and suggests a roadmap for setting your bank apart from the competition. This is the second installment.    

College educated. Upper-middle class. Very young. Sound familiar? This is the stereotypical Millennial that Corporate America has been pursuing for years. But is this an accurate description? Do all Millennials really fit that mold? And are businesses leaving anything on the table by using that characterization to define and target an entire generation?

The answers are no, no and yes! Millennials range in age from 18 to 34 but encompass a wide range of life stages. The younger end of the generation has just entered into “adulthood” with newfound legal rights and responsibilities while the older end of the generation has been on their own for nearly 16 years. Their goals, needs and wants are vastly different.

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How Big is Your Piece of the Millennial Pie?

Banking & Millennials Series: Part 1

Editor’s Note: For banks struggling to establish relationships with Millennials, “Banking & Millennials” is a three-part blog series that explores the savings/investing potential of this group, exposes why popular stereotypes are dead wrong and suggests a roadmap for setting your bank apart from the competition. This is the first installment.

When I first began doing research in the banking space, I assumed the main reason banks had a hard time attracting Millennials was the group’s lack of cash to invest and save. I was wrong. While some Millennials are just entering the workforce and others are in college, many have been earning big bucks for a while now. In fact, nearly one-quarter of Millennials have more than $50,000 in investable assets and actually show a greater propensity to save than older generations.

If spending power and a strong propensity to save are not major hurdles, why are banks struggling to win over this generation?

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The Future of Financial Planning and Advice

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Many forces are converging that could dramatically impact market expectations for financial planning and advice. Advances in technology, tightening fiduciary regulations and new expectations from the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations are raising the standard of investment advice and causing financial advisors, advice providers and product manufacturers to significantly adapt their strategies.

Advances in Technology

Both advisors and investors have an increasing number of sophisticated technology-based tools at their disposal to aid in making investment decisions. In fact, 33% of advisors currently offer digital investment advice to their clients through their firm’s proprietary platform and 30% of affluent investors are currently using robo-advisors.

Tightening Regulations

The DOL fiduciary rule is imposing fiduciary status on all registered representatives when providing investment recommendations and enforcing new regulations on investment advice in retirement accounts. While some are fighting these rules, others are already adapting, and distributors and providers would be wise to be proactive in adjusting their business models appropriately. Continue reading

What Modern Romance Can Teach Us About Generational Research

tech-modern-romanceI was recently inspired by Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance—a well-researched, insightful look into the rapid changes in modern social life: meeting, dating, coupling, cheating, uncoupling. His book provides many great lessons about a changing world, perhaps none more so than his concept of a “phone world” which many of us now regularly inhabit:

“Through our phone world we are connected to anyone or everyone in our lives, from our parents to a casual acquaintance whom we friend on Facebook. For younger generations, their social lives play out through social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Tinder, and Facebook as much as through campuses, cafes, and clubs. But in recent years, as more and more adults have begun spending more and more time on their own digital devices, just about everybody with the means to buy a device and a data plan has become a hyper engaged participant in their phone world”.

The advancement of technology, including its adoption and influence, is moving fast—fast enough to reshape our thinking about how to best approach generational research. We often consider Millennials—those roughly age 18-34—as a homogenous group. Yet, there are distinct differences in technology device usage and technological perceptions between those in emerging adulthood (18-24 years old) and those in young adulthood (25-34 years old). These groups are adopting technology differently, and we need to approach them as distinct segments, particularly when conducting technology research.  Continue reading

Q&A: Affluent Investors, Robo-Advisors, Product and More!

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Q and A

In September we released the 2015 Investor Brandscape report and followed up in October with some insights shared during a live webinar, The New Generation of Investors and Advice. Download the webinar here.

We thought you may be interested in some of the questions your industry peers raised during the webinar, as the questions cover topics of interest related to the affluent investor market.


Q. What can you tell us about the types of investors who are embracing robo-advisors?
A. We observe that likely robo-advisor adopters are laser-focused on retirement savings much more so than investors who aren’t interested in automated advice services at this time. We believe this is why we see a spike in interest among Gen X investors, as the oldest in this generation turns 50 this year and retirement is taking a greater role in these investors’ financial landscape. In addition, likely adopters are also more interested in increasing investment performance, suggesting that as consumers, they are more confident in achieving a greater return from automated investment solutions compared with what they believe they can get from an advisor or achieve on their own. Continue reading

Say Hello to the Next Generation of Investors and Advice Solutions

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Next Generation of Investors and Advice Solutions

Answer: Robo-advisors and Millennials.

Question: What are the top two sources of emerging growth for distributors and asset managers?

In this year’s Investor Brandscape, released to subscribers last week, we see clear signs that automated investment advice services, commonly known as robo-advisors, are poised to become the next major catalyst for change in the wealth management industry. Currently, 30% of affluent households are directing at least a portion of their assets to this alternative advice offering. Meanwhile, Millennials are having a huge impact on the affluent investor population as they continue to amass wealth and challenge asset managers and distributors to rethink outreach strategies to satisfy a new breed of affluent investors, a group that demonstrates a tremendous appetite for financial information and brand interaction and has high expectations for service and support. Continue reading

How Do You Take Your Money Management?

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How Do You Take Your Money Management?

Active versus passive management is an increasingly relevant subject to explore given the rise of ETFs and the ongoing debate about index funds. Some investors are active purists, seeking the alpha on performance that a professional manager or individual investor can potentially achieve, while others prefer to rely in part or completely on tracking market indices. Three segments with differing asset allocation models—100% active, 100% passive and active/passive blend—are alive and well among affluent investors.

Across the generations, Millennials (54%) are most likely to blend active and passive, followed by Gen Xers (48%) and 2nd Wave Boomers (47%). However, the likelihood of being 100% invested in actively-managed products increases with age, peaking at 48% among Silent Generation investors. Continue reading

DC Plan Providers Leave Participants Wanting More

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In positive news for DC plan providers seeking to grow cross-sell business through in-house retirement plans: 3 in 4 (74%) plan participants are open to being contacted by their providers about additional financial services and products. However, current participant engagement with DC plan providers is relatively weak as it is largely limited to interaction with websites and quarterly account statements. With DC providers relying primarily on passive and administrative interaction with plan participants, they are leaving a significant portion of hot prospects untouched. Continue reading