Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are a target market for a lot of banks. These are the consumers who have years of saving and investing ahead of them. Yet a recent report from USA Today found that these young adults, in spite of a financially responsible mindset, are finding it difficult to save and invest.
In the report, USA Today partnered with Bank of America to perform the Better Money Habits poll of Millennials. The group surveyed 1,001 people in the 1834 age group to determine what they believed about finances and how they were acting on those beliefs. Interestingly, the reports findings were a mixed message.
In the survey, Millennials reported feeling that they had good financial habits and were planning to live better off than their parents as older adults. Yet the report also found that a third of those surveyed were receiving regular financial support from their family. While they indicated they lived “within their means,” the report also found that many were living paycheck to paycheck.
Most interesting to banking professionals is the emphasis on getting rid of debt that this demographic had. This means that banking professionals need to target these consumers in another area, and many are turning to savings as their target product to offer to Millennials, but this may not be effective. According to the survey, many of this demographic are still unable to put away money for their emergency savings while also reducing debt, so they were having to choose between the two priorities.
Millennials Want to Save
According to the report, Millennials do want to save. In fact, 69 percent of those surveyed indicated they had a savings account, but most of them had less than $5,000 in that account. To top that off, 41 percent are stressed about not being able to put enough money away for the future. Yet, not many indicated they were successful at saving. Only 36 percent indicate they are excellent at saving money. So the desire is there, but the ability and knowledge to achieve that desire is not.
The Cause of this Struggle
What has caused so many Millennials to struggle to save, even though they want to? Some will say it is the job market. The market has been slow to improve, and wages have stagnated especially for entry-class workers. Students are graduating with thousands of dollars of debt that they have to begin paying off immediately. The end result is a demographic that is knowledge-rich and cash-poor.
How Banks Can Help
As a bank, how can you help Millennials realize their desire to save while living within the confines of their current financial situation? The answer is two-fold. First, the bank needs to focus on providing education. Millennials are used to living for the now. They are not focused on the future, and they need to be given some education about the need to focus on the future. Targeting this demographic with informative marketing materials or the services of a certified financial planner can help.
Second, these savings solutions need to be easy. In order to save, busy Millennials in the heart of their careers need it to be automatic. Encouraging them to sign up for automatic drafts, for instance, will ensure that they are consistent with saving.
Remember, Millennials are not failing to save because they don’t want to. They are failing to save because they don’t feel like they can. Provide them a way to do it that is reasonable and in line with the current financial situation, and watch as you gain more and more of these long-term accounts.