Small People, Big Money

Richard Nolan

Operations Director

The Financial Services Forum

Financial education is a basic life tool and very much a priority for government. Sarah Dudney warns that financial service companies ignore the upcoming Generation Y at their peril.
With all the media headlines about student debt and the impossibility of getting onto the housing ladder, it is easy to think of the youth generation as an impoverished lot, and (for banks and insurers) as a cost rather than an opportunity, a liability rather than an asset. Yet Generation Y, as some label it, will eventually inherit about forty million million dollars.
It seems at the moment that this sector, or at least its potential, is being lost to the mainstream market – 92% of heirs change their financial advisers after ‘coming into the money’, which implies that their first bank or insurer has not recognized the opportunity and has failed (or not even attempted) to nurture them properly.
It is important to appreciate that youth customers, like all others, are fickle – and sometimes contrary. Tell them to do something and they’ll often do the opposite. Talk as if you’re a banker or a schoolteacher and they’ll ignore you. So, Sarah Dudney argues, you will never engage this market just by giving the ‘financial services education’ lessons that politicians and industry top brass like to
eulogize about.
The language and the imagery needs to be right – which probably implies that it needs to be different for different age groups within the Generation Y, and sometimes different for different people within the same age groups.
This will be a big learning experience for the industry as well as the children, but the only way to learn is to experience. Sarah describes as a case study OINK!, the first business newspaper for children. It’s only a start, but at least it’s a start. The sponsors, including the Financial Times and Hamleys, clearly see the value, so perhaps some banks and insurers should as well.
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