Richest millennials have rigorous digital requirements for their wealth managers

Wealthy millennials are showing some striking contradictions in their digital attitudes towards financial matters, and wealth managers have to consider these when aiming to win their younger clients’ hearts.

That’s the main finding of the report 'Millennials in Wealth Management - A Survey of Digital Attitudes and Behavior in Five Key Markets’ by Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking. For the report, MyPrivateBanking conducted a panel survey in the five key markets – the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland – addressing the digital needs and preferences of 1,000 affluent and high-net-worth individuals aged 18 to 34.
 
The MyPrivateBanking survey observes that wealthy millennials on the one hand are all about digital nativism, using mobile first, loving text and chat, and being intrigued by robo-advisors. On the other hand, they display some remarkably conservative attitudes and behaviour when it comes to digital banking and wealth management.
 
“The old desktop computer is still very much in use for financial matters, many millennials don’t trust the mobile app, and robo advice should come with a human advisor attached,” says Carmela Melone, senior analyst at MyPrivateBanking. “However, we see a lot of variance across different wealth brackets – especially the wealthiest segment among millennials has aggressive digital requirements for their wealth managers and banks.”
 
According to the report, mobile comes first, but millennial HNWIs are disappointed by their wealth manager’s apps. The survey observed that 73 per cent of millennials use their wealth manager’s mobile app(s). However, looking at the different wealth brackets, we find that it is especially the high-net-worth segment that is unhappy about their wealth manager’s apps’ capabilities, as 34 per cent refuse to use the banking apps.
 
The young wealthy want innovative communication channels. Among the millennials, it is particularly the high-net-worth segment with USD1 million of investable assets and more who are getting in touch with their financial advisor via communication channels such as social media, text or video chat, and messengers. For all three contact options, they arrived at a score of 0.89, with 0 meaning ‘not at all’, 1 ‘occasionally’ and 2 ‘frequently.
 
Robo-advisors have high potential as long as human advice is available. Awareness of the new trend of robo-advisors among wealthy millennials is already at a surprisingly high level, as 40 per cent have already heard or read about them, 11 per cent state they know quite a lot about robos, and 10 per cent even say that they know about them in detail. Actual usage among those who are aware of robos is at 40 per cent. However, the clear majority of 60 per cent expect accessibility to a human advisor when investing with a robo-advisor.
 
The MyPrivateBanking survey also compared the country-specific results and found that in many areas, the cross-country differences are relatively low for the millennials. An area where there is still a lot of variance in awareness and openness is robo advice, which might be due to the different market maturities in these countries.
 
US millennials are mostly iOS users, they know comparatively more about robo-advisors, and a clear majority of 81 per cent expect to have access to a human advisor when investing with a robo platform.
 
UK millennials constitute the largest country segment that is using smart speakers, smartwatches, and smartphones for financial matters and they clearly favour iOS (69 per cent). When investing with a robo platform, 20 per cent expect regular meetings or calls with a human advisor.
 
French millennials are heavy tablet users (67 per cent) and the only country segment that prefers desktop (82 per cent) over smartphone (81 per cent). Most of them are investors (90 per cent) and they form the largest group of robo users.
 
German millennials are mostly Android users (61 per cent) and more than one third (34 per cent) say that they do not use their wealth manager’s apps – their main reasons being concerns regarding their personal data and security. 45 per cent state that they’ve never heard about robo-advisors.
 
Swiss millennials are mostly Android users (58 per cent) and half of them have never heard about robo-advisors before but they appear to be very curious; 65 per cent say that they could imagine using such a tool in the future.

When looking at the different wealth segments, though, the report finds major differences, states Carmela Melone. “Millennials from the upper wealth segment who have USD1 million of investable assets or more are the heaviest users of wealth apps and smartwatch features compared to their peers from lower wealth segments. Additionally, they are leading the demand for innovative communication features such as messengers, social media, and chat functions.”
 
The report draws four key conclusions for wealth managers to win their younger clients’ hearts.
 
Firstly, mobile is a must but wealth managers shouldn’t bury the desktop just yet. The desktop computer remains an important element for personal finance, so wealth managers are well advised to make strong efforts on their websites and banking platforms.
 
Secondly, wealth managers should provide relevant apps and tools. Many millennials state that they are not offered the right apps: 27 per cent of the overall sample and 34 per cent of the HNW millennials say that there is no app offered that they would consider using and they expect better financial planning and analysis tools in addition to the most basic features.
 
Thirdly, wealth managers should offer a smart speaker. A substantial share of 17 per cent of the millennials already use smart speakers for their financial matters. The market for these devices is growing and will continue to increase the demand for finance apps. Therefore, wealth managers should act now in order not to miss this trend.

And finally, wealth managers should invest in hybrid robo advice. The robo advice trend is here to stay and 84 per cent of the millennials are already using or would consider using such a tool in the future. For most of them (60 per cent), however, the accessibility of a human advisor who can be contacted in case of questions relating to the client’s investments is a prerequisite.