Millennial investors are less trusting of financial advisors than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
According to a new survey by Accenture, 43 percent of millennials, those ages 21 to 30, thought of themselves as conservative investors, compared to 31 percent of Baby Boomers, age 46 to 70. The younger generation also was more likely than Baby Boomers to say they preferred tried and true investment options and were four times more likely than Baby Boomers to say they were unwilling to act on the advice of a financial advisor without first consulting other sources.
Forty-four percent of millennials said they spend a lot of time researching alternatives before making a major purchase decision, compared to 33 percent of Baby Boomers.
“Surprisingly, the millennial generation has emerged from two boom-and-bust cycles even more conservative about investing and more skeptical of financial advice than the generations that were hit hardest by the market,” said Alex Pigliucci, global managing director of Accenture Wealth and Asset Management Services. “This poses a fundamental challenge for financial advisors who will see the greatest transfer of wealth in history from Boomers to their heirs over the next several decades. But counter to prevailing wisdom, our research suggests millennials are a highly viable target for advisors.”
According to the survey, published in Accenture’s new report, “Generation D: An Emerging and Important Investor Segment, millennials are the most driven among the generations to build and pass along wealth, and the most interested in mastering investment strategy. Forty percent of millennial respondents said they are “determined” to pass along wealth to their families, compared to 25 percent of Baby Boomers and GenXers (ages 31-45). Forty-four percent of millennials described themselves as “extremely” interested in improving their understanding of investing compared to 38 percent of older respondents.
The survey points to unmet demand for online investor education and advisor-interaction tools that could increase millennial investing and help bridge the “trust gap” with financial advisors. Presented with concepts for new online educational resources – ranging from online investment forums and educational web-based video services, to virtual advisor chats, webinars and social media – millennial respondents showed overwhelming interest.
“The behaviors and attitudes of millennials are not just a matter of long-term strategy for wealth managers; they are a leading indicator of the need for change today,” added Pigliucci. “The recent financial crisis brought a sea change in attitudes toward investing and distrust for the financial industry across all generations. The explosion of digital and social channels in everyday life is simultaneously spilling into consumers’ relationships with their financial institutions. With half of all Baby Boom investors currently active in social media and a vast majority active online, the innovations that will capture the millennial generation also will help capture the most coveted demographics among GenXers and Baby Boomers.”
According to Accenture, there are more than 75 million digitally savvy investors in the U.S. with high-income, assets and education, which Accenture calls “Generation D.”
Gen D members see investing as a viable path to building and passing wealth to future generations, and they recognize the need for financial advice. But they are less and less likely to view financial advisors as trusted sources. For example, 59 percent of respondents across all generations said they had actively sought financial advice recently, but only 40 percent had turned to a financial advisor, according to the survey.
“The evolving investment behavior of Generation D – from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers and millennials – has brought a seismic shift in the client-advisor relationship. Wealth managers who provide transparency, education and tools that make investing easier to understand – and those that provide the rationale behind their recommendations – will be positioned to achieve trusted-advisor status among market-leading demographics,” said Pigliucci.
The Accenture survey was given online to 1,005 high-income, tech-savvy U.S. investors between August and September 2012.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 259,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.