What Exactly do Millennials Want?

Financial services companies have now spent the better part of a decade desperately trying to figure out what millennials want and how to give it to them. Well, of course, we know that they want to use consumer digital services, for one. We’re also told they tend to want to do business with companies that align with their values. (We’re surprised “conscious capitalism” never caught on as a buzzword, or as the title of an indie rock album.)

Some, like insurance company Legal & General America (which owns Banner and William Penn) are gaining traction and building street cred with nods from the likes of Millennial Money.

Yet many other new offerings from financial institutions that tried to play on millennial trends never gained traction. We all know that JP Morgan Chase’s ill-fated “Finn” digital banking app created for millennials — replete with emojis and budgeting tools — was shuttered in June after only one year in existence. Meanwhile, Pacific Life Insurance announced last week it’s closing its “Swell Investing” product, an app it introduced in 2017 to be “tailored to thirtysomethings eager to use their assets to make the world a better place.”

The lesson for financial institutions should be that new products designed for a younger demographic won’t succeed automatically just because they are digital or “socially conscious.” Another point to consider regarding this college-debt-riddled generation: “The average millennial has a net worth of just $8,000,” according to a Deloitte study from this year. The simple answer may be that millennials will take longer than previous generations to build up wealth and may not currently have much need for these types of products.