Millennial musings on banking

The long and the short of this topic is that when millennials think about things that keep them up at night, the future of banking is not at the top of their list.

We cannot disregard the strides financial institutions have made (and continue to make) in order to cater for a younger and more tech-savvy target audience however, one can question whether these changes are drastic or fast enough.

Having interviewed a group of South African millennials (between the ages of 17 and 38) on this topic, two themes emerged which I did not expect and will elaborate on below.

Category A

This category consists of individuals who worked in industries other than financial institutions.

At first, the individuals within this category could not at first contextualize the question and after giving it some thought, did not think banking would revolutionize beyond digital and did not perceive it as an integral part in their future to drive anything forward so their emotions were neither here nor there.

This finding though beckons a deeper question I think, which is, “are banks marketing the right way to millennials?” Because remember, millennials are not just a group of hippie youngsters who like skateboarding and hanging out with their friends while they listen to music and eat ice cream. Another untapped audience within this category are those young people starting Fintechs and NGO’s, or Social Entrepreneurs really making a difference within their communities and making it onto the Forbes list under 30. They have substance. They have goals and plans and at this very moment, they view banks as a bureaucratic and archaic nightmare that sometimes helps, but most times hinders productivity/ success.

I think a giant leap in the right direction would be to sort out data and understand their clients better with what they already have (which is a lot) so as to lend more intuitively when it matters.

Category B

This category consists of individuals who who worked for a financial institution and maybe they are tainted because they are positioned right in the thick of the action so they do see what’s working well and what isn’t, or maybe, I just extended a bone for them to pick.

So this group of millennials were very vocal around their expectations of what role banks should play in society now and in the future. They understood how much data banks collect and how much they should know their clients yet do not and this shows in the cosnstsnt repetition in the processes the bank takes them and their staff through, when the information can just be pooled to one central system and funneled to where it needs to go in order to fulfill the client need.

Another quick gripe linked to manual requests is digitization- which is a primary focus for a top 4 banks yet the question I have around this is “are banks digitizing because it’s the new thing that must be done or is it being done with purpose- to actually improve lives?”

I think I’ll wrap this post up here for now. All comments I received offline were incredibly insightful, and some of the insights I want to share would be expressed better in a secondary post which will focus purely on thoughts and opinions aimed at financial institutions in order to help them to implement changes that will impact the future of banking which I will publish soon!

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