THE BLOG

Time For The City To Open Its Doors To Millennials

25/11/2016 13:54
chombosan via Getty Images

It's no surprise that the public-at-large find finance confusing.

On the one hand, politicians and businesspeople speak of the testing economic times, the challenges faced with Brexit, the volatility caused by Donald Trump's election and the risks to world stability.

The fall in the pound is terrible news in one paper, but a huge opportunity in another.

It's a complicated business, which is why individuals, particular young people, are switching off. A report released by Gallup earlier this year found that just 52 per cent of Americans now own stocks - that number drops to 38 per cent for those aged 18-34.

In the UK, native individuals own just 12 per cent of shares in UK-listed and incorporated companies. Received wisdom is that the age breakdown is much the same as across the pond.

What's keeping young people from getting involved with investment? And, what can be done to encourage more?

In a world packed with thousands of global equity indices, stocks, currencies, commodities and bonds, there are any number of possible financial actions and products, which can make it a daunting place for newcomers.

Having previously been an industry insider, with 30 years at large institutions such as Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan, I've seen the high levels of understanding that City experts have, enabling them to make large investments confidently and constantly.

Traditionally the banks haven't been welcoming to those retail customers with 'small change'. There's little appetite for an evolution, either, mainly due to a management pool that neither has the will or the skills to engage with the new investor, whose expertise and enthusiasm is enriched by the knowledge that technology - specifically fintech - has enabled.

From the outside, the old world of banking can be intimidating. No one wants to be the novice in the football match, hacking up the penalty spot or falling over when they go for a volley. But, with the right basic skills and coaching, and some understanding of the rules, taking part becomes a much more attractive prospect. It's the same for investment.

The education system is playing its part in tackling the problem. For example, invstr has recently launched the Student Investing Championship, a tournament for young people which aims to encourage them to be more engaged with financial markets. Support from faculties across the UK and US has been incredible, and through campus ambassador schemes, students can also earn money by recruiting others to take part.

If universities can nurture relationships with private businesses and organisations, drawing on startup technology and developing a safe, social environment for their students to learn more about the financial markets, that will go a long way to developing the next army of young investors.

Consumption is also key and mobile technology must be the focus, whether for training - as with invstr - or for real-life trading. Millennials work on small screens, on the move, and access to the stock market has to follow that model.

Technology must work in tandem with the initiatives. Businesses must get out to campuses, schools, companies and individuals with a genuine message and spread the investment gospel.

Financial skills are vital to future economic development, which means that increasing education and understanding of the markets is integral. There seems to be little excuse for the banking establishment to fail to engage with an enthusiastic, technologically empowered generation. Consumers are very explicit with what they expect - open, clear, easy-to-use platforms - and fintech can enable banks to deliver the customer satisfaction required.

It's quite apt that, 30 years from the Big Bang there is a new revolution happening - a social one where young people have more information than ever at their fingertips.

There's a huge opportunity for the banks to use engaging fintech to recapture the trust they once embodied amongst consumers, making finance and investing a more welcoming experience for all.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS