Existentialism is a philosophy that explores the meaning of life.
The positives of existentialism entail leading a meaningful life; however, the underbelly of existentialism is the the dreaded existential crisis.
If you have read “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma you know the narrative of Julian Mantle all too well and how at the peak of her success as a lawyer, she suffers a heart attack that drives her to stop and question everything she’s ever know about her existence. In search for enlightenment she traded in her lavish life for one with monks in the Himalayan mountains.
I strongly believe that the existential crisis happens at a time in our lives when we need it most. Usually when we are on overdrive and desperately need an act of God that will cause some sort of inflection.
This sort of experience although confusing and overwhelming, guarantees one thing-clarity around purpose/reason for existence which I certainly think is a great starting point if we are to live meaningful and impactful lives.
This week, as I was browsing the World Wide Web for some blog post inspo, I stumbled upon the most interesting post titled “The 9 Highest-Paying Jobs for Millennials“. I thought it would be interesting to have a look because immediately I had made an assumption around what the jobs would be and secondly, you know, just for control haha, “am I positioning myself and my career in the right way?”.
So I clicked on the article on Entrepreneur.com which can be found here and to my surprise… all of the jobs which were listed were incredibly traditional. What I mean by traditional is that they were not at all a representation of the future world of work. If you are curious but too lazy (read: too invested in my article) to leave and go read the other article in the link, the jobs listed can be read below:
Operations Research Analyst
Computer Systems Analyst
So as you can see from this list… very traditional and “normal”. Granted, the rules used to develop the list looked at the most high paying jobs first and then whether they were occupied by millennials, which essentially skewed the outcome however, this discovery beckoned some question in my mind….
Are millennials as a market/commodity being undervalued?
With so many millennials entering the economy, by virtue of their volume, this grouping will influence service delivery, shape product features and drive organizations to re-evaluate how employees are engaged, motivated and remunerated. But with all of this being said, South Africa (which possesses a much younger aged population) seems to only be pondering about the possibility of this new age in a way that can make one think that it’s only a future reality. I fully understand that the rise of each generation brings about exponential change and an environment that has never been experienced before. Millennials have brought about a digital age along with big data and they’re begging for engagement and interplay in this environment. Because I don’t see this happening my question then becomes: “are millennials as a market/commodity being undervalued? Do corporates/ businesses/ the economy not see the value of focusing on them and investing in the mastery of millennials as a micro- sector of sorts?”
Are millennials being used as SMEs in the workplace to build and shape rules of engagement/ products and services for other millennials?
Because we know the roles of the “new age” (Google top 10 roles that exist/will exist in that future that have never existed before) have been identified and are being staffed in different industries, is the collective value of these roles being overlooked by attaching lower salary tags to them? and secondly I wonder whether millennials occupy these roles or is millennial employee confidence so low that millennials cannot be trusted to launch new business units/ operations before they wave their employees goodbye (to run off into the sunset with a round trip ticket… or to start their own companies and run wild in a space free of bureaucracy or something else millennially haha). Either way, whatever is happening in this situation is a loss on all fronts because corporations are sleeping on innate industry experts internally who can help master a market of consumers that plug into almost any industry; and the millennial workforce is disengaged and attriting in traditional workplace settings.
However you choose to look at it though, there is 1 major thing that this article highlights and that is “money goes where there is perceived value- money attracts money” and maybe (just maybe) as a generation, we just haven’t proven ourselves enough. Hell even till today Bitcoin still has its skeptics!
So as promised, this is basically the second part from the post published last week around millennial Musings on banking, click here for a quick refresh on what went down last week.
This week though, the focus is on the thoughts of those millennials who consciously mused about banks of the future and what their present expectations were of the future state of banking.
As a very proud member of the financial institutions community, like any other committed individual, I really want to see traditional banks evolving and fulfilling their purpose in a way that makes their customers happy because customers are the heart of their business and a part of me also believes that this can be achieved by big corporates if given enough focus and deliberate action.
In order to ensure that everything from the feedback received is captured, the points will be themed, grouped and listed.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see. Basically, this famous quote by world renowned boxer Muhammad Ali sums up the primary and greatest reason why traditional banks are in danger and how they can overcome this danger. I’m not a boxing guru but I definitely this this analogy will help portray the message. Good boxers are like Fintechs, they have the finesse, speed and stamina to win the battle, but the big 4 giants have something these Fintechs don’t which is technique, experience and endurance. Now when we couple these 6 traits, that makes for a great boxer/ a great bank. So what do millennials want? The safety and stability of the old (minus the red tape and bureaucracy) but the agility and finesse of the new.
The future is now. This is a concept the older generations like referring to as “instant gratification”. It is a concept laden with negative connotations that relate to regret from poorly thought out decisions but this doesn’t have to be viewed that way. Let’s take the process of getting a credit card for example (even a cheque card). The reasons for why customers have to sit through hours of paperwork and credit checks only to be told in the end that their card will be hand delivered to them at the earliest of their convenience just will not fly in the future. When a customer, a millennial customer is approaching a service provider for something, they usually want end to end fulfillment there and then or else what is the actual point? Yes we could say that people must plan better for their life events so they aren’t disappointed by the wait, but what if, you as a service provider could make the future happen now for your customers by tweaking a few processes, researching the demand for credit so that branches are adequately stocked up for the demand as and when it comes? What if you were so proactive that a week before Black Friday you’re signing up customers for in-store credit cards so that they have been delivered to be used on the day? Being more proactive about knowing the customer in this case is directly attributable to sales. Customer is happy, income statements are happy, it’s a win- win you see?
Robotics!!!! millennials have expressed that they trust and prefer to engage and interact with technology to solve their needs than a human being. It’s much cheaper as they use data as opposed to airtime where they’re redirected to a call centre that makes them wait for 20 minutes before telling them “sorry Ma’am I don’t have the mandate to assist you with that request.” The cool thing about robotics is that it reduces headcount costs (but it does cause unemployment if not introduced and socialized correctly) on the upside thought, employees are freed up to do more meaningful and complex tasks that require actual thinking because the self service capability is actually of service, end to end.
Which leads me to my next point, adequately equipped/skilled online assistance… if we are to go digital, we must do so excellently. Because millennials have no desire to go to the branch, the branch must therefore be designed into a space that they want to engage in, which in this case is online. The ability to offer advice and assistance online will make all the difference from a customer service perspective.
However if the branch must exist, it must do so unobtrusively, in a way that allows for co- creation and advancing the economy. This way the bank achieves two things: it plays a role in fulfilling consumer aspirations and it also contributes in giving back to the community- which is very big with millennials. Purpose driven action/work.
Farewell NIR (Non- Interest Revenue), RIP ATMS. Millennials (and digital developments) will essentially kill this line item as business moves to and creates digital alternatives to access and transfer funds as opposed to sourcing it from a traditional ATM.
Staying ahead of cybercrime. With the new and fantastic era of digital banking, millennials are also cautious of cybercrime as this is one of the elements that come with the downside of digital. Their only plea with this is for banks to be proactive and engaged in the protection they offer of their assets. They want banks to be a safe and untouchable place.
IN-TER-GRA-TION. As mentioned in my previous post, financial institutions have a myriad of data and information on clients. More than enough to do really small but really meaningful, kickass stuff. Millennials really think it’s lame that engagements and the identification of current and future product needs are still so “banky ” and impersonal. Banks can do a whole lot more to prove they understand their clients and show up as life and business partners. Banks need to understand client lifestyles and aspirations and meet those with their data. There must be collaboration with external corporates and an ecosystem built to fulfill these needs and make it a seamless experience to attain what matters to them, irrespective of whether it’s bank-related or not.
Okay peeps so that’s the list! It was quite an eye opener for me and I learnt a few things from engaging with my amazing research sample group. I hope this perspective not only sheds some light but assists in some strategic implementations of how financial institutions cater for (not just millennials) but in actual fact, their future clientele.
If there are any other topics you’d like for me to explore and write about, please leave a comment.
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.
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.
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!
There is no doubt that many big corporates have begun to feel the effects from the entrance of millennials into their organisations. Recruitment agents and talent scouts have had to change and adapt to this new group of individuals entering the workplace (many of them for the first time) who behave in ways that have never observed before.
1. Millennials thrive in collaborative environments
Firstly, the brilliant thing (and something that will shock older generations) about millennials is this- we know that we don’t know everything and therefore, the more ideas and experts we have to work with, the better, and the easier for us because then everyone can play their part, brilliantly. The last thing that happens when we encounter individuals with more depth and knowledge than us is the threat of feeling disposable… or even worse- threatened. To us, it’s an opportunity to learn more and in some instances, the challenge of doing better and improving ourselves arises. You only know what you know and the minute you stop learning is the minute you start becoming useless.
An environment that rebukes team work or collaboration and promotes silos, is a destructive environment that millennials just cannot tolerate. The fact that I know the solution for another department’s problem but I am “not allowed to give it to them” simply baffles us because the way we think and operate goes beyond our tiny circles of influence, the ideas we have extend beyond the invisible departmental boundaries, silos and hierarchical structures. We work on Vision, Mission, Purpose- then we execute. I mean to be honest, who the hell should care that Mary’s boss had a tiff last week with Simon’s boss so now they aren’t on speaking or sharing terms and because of that, Mary shouldn’t be either. In fact, Mary’s whole team should begin to shun Simon’s and no resources shall be shared with then until further notice. How is this moving anyone forward?
To be honest, when organisations aren’t supportive of collaboration, it creates a selfish culture and an environment where trust is absent. When individuals are compensated based on personal performance on a group task, it creates an environment where people work together but essentially only have their own backs. So how can one truly and genuinely help their colleague if this is the remuneration system? The answer is- they can’t. So please stop telling us to be team players when we get nothing but betrayal for it.
2. Millennials honestly don’t mind doing coffee rounds
This is probably the best thing you could ask a millennial to do as it gives us the opportunity to get away from the desk where we’re bogged down with administrative tasks that our 3 year old nephews could do OR this could just be an opportunity to network during the round and possibly meet our next manager… so thanks 🙂
3. Millennials don’t mind making photocopies, thick- ass PowerPoint presentations or whatever else that sucks
“Millennials don’t just want to read the news anymore. They want to know what they can do about it”
As long as it isn’t useless, or something to occupy our time until you find something else for us to do. And also, as long as that small sucky thing, is crucial in the bigger scheme of things. In essence, let’s start doing more value work and less waste work. If we can fax to email, lets. If we can relay the same message in 6 slides as opposed to 20 then why not? Life is too precious to spend it not progressing and not doing meaningful stuff. Come now.
5. Millennials, when placed in traditional organisations are the key to converting your titanic into a jet ski, because let’s face it, those start up icebergs are sprouting up EVERYWHERE and they’re pretty awesome
Q: Who are big corporates biggest threats at the moment?
A: All of the organisations founded by 20- something year old masterminds that are sprouting up at the moment 🙂
So please stop killing us by bringing in 37 year old execs to tell you how to compete with Fintech start-ups. Stop hiring consultants and spending millions each year when the answers lie in your grad pools. Come now.
6. Millennials are loyal
“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to .”
-Sir Richard Branson
So a lot of what I have read online about the issues many people face with my generation is our lack of stickiness in general. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Gone are the days where you will find a millennials sticking it through in a job to get an award for “10 years of service” never mind 5 years.
The difference between millennials and older generations is that unlike the ones who entered the workplace before us, security isn’t really a big career anchor among my generation. Many of us want to feel like we are significant and working towards a cause, something incredible. Yes the money is important, but we would rather go without it if it means that’s all we come to work for.
Millennials are more than capable of “sticking it through” but we need to believe that me matter, that our personal and career growth are just as important to our employers as they are to us and we need to believe that we are in environments with channels that are effective in wanting us to win not just for the organisation, but for ourselves as well.
The last thing millennials want to feel like is just an underpaid resource that must be seen and not heard. Firstly we were never raised this way and secondly, we believe we are great and you should to….’cause we really are! Hahaha
This millennials subject has been so fulfilling to write about. It is something that fascinates me because unlike some things that I need to fully research and understand, the foundation of millennials, who they are, how they think and how they operate, is something I understand at its core because I am one. I have also never seen so much consistency with the way a single generation reasons and operates. It is crazy. It is as if I’ve been cloned all over South Africa, the world actually (besides a few exceptions who I believe have either been transformed by the system or their voices have died)
I hope that my posts from these past two weeks have helped you either understands this incredible (and super crazy) generation or if you are also a fellow millennials, to actually help you see that you are not alone! I and many others stand in solidarity with you in this struggle as we try change the world, which we will :).
When I say we, I speak for the many individuals who are between the ages of 13- 30 at this moment. I know that many can relate when I say we are the most misunderstood generation of all time (and yes you will say, “That’s how we felt when we were your age”) but then, that mystifies me because why then can you not relate to the way we think and process the world? Millennials are that golden unicorn you never thought existed 🙂
Knowing that we are the way that we are, why does it shock you or offend you when we say promote us based on the very same potential you identified when you hired us? This business of “paying your dues” is a foreign concept and some sort of prejudicial test because to you, how can we be so great when it took you 10 years right?
We are the generation that work for growth, for a cause- a purpose bigger than our own little world, and the second you compromise on our beliefs and values, we’re out because what’s the use?
We are the generation that if given the power and opportunity, can solve your problems in half the time with half the resources. But if you don’t allow us, we don’t wait around for 10 years to “earn it”, we go right ahead and create that hub to solve the problems you thought we were incapable of solving because we aren’t about titles, tenure or complexity. We’re about impact and revolutions. We’re about “leaving footprints in the sands of time” and being “the change we want to see in the world”. We’re about having integrity; and that means speaking the same story in the boardroom and in the corridors.
We are employees one day and self -made billionaires the next because we don’t believe in “waiting our turn”. We know what we are capable of and if we aren’t capable we will work ourselves to the bone to make up for it.
We are the generation that lives in the moment, unencumbered by time or age because our minds are our greatest assets, take some time to listen to us and you will realise this as we share our ingenious ideas.
We are the generation that can start a riot with a hashtag and a mobile phone on a multi-billion dollar platform designed by someone young enough to be your child.
What older people can learn from my generation is the ability to develop grit and become big picture thinkers. To know that an idea is valid even if they don’t know how to make it happen.
What older generations can learn from my generation is that success is no longer found at the end of a Medical, Legal or Accounting qualification. Success could very well be measured by the impact you make in your world… by your ability to solve a problem that has taken multi-billion rand corporations to implement in decades, in just a year….by ensuring that by the time you die men and women are paid equally and afforded equal opportunities… by simply living out the whisper of our hearts.
As I have said before, life is too short to compromise your journey by working your lungs out for someone who when you die, will send your family flowers and have a post advertised for your job the next day. Life is too short to pay our dues and be someone that would make our parents’ friends proud.
Although we might not know the “how” of our lives, we most certainly know our “what”. We are the circles in a square world. The radical minds and “inexperienced” thought leaders and from what I’ve observed, for once, we are the generation that is willing to die for our truth.