Banks need evolution, not revolution to attract millennials

A recent study in the US shows three quarters of millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks have to say and are more interested in hearing from technology firms about financial services, writes Paul Thomalla

A recent study in the US shows three quarters of millennials would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks have to say and are more interested in hearing from technology firms about financial services, writes Paul Thomalla

It’s a worrying headline statistic for retail bankers, but a more considered analysis of these statistics may give a more accurate picture.

Millennials, by their very age group, will have grown up during a time of great technological change. From 30 year olds down, they have seen PCs invade homes, the internet spread, and smartphones find a place in their pocket. It’s little wonder they have an affinity with the brands behind these changes. Yet if you look at these brands, some have already blinked out of existence. Anyone remember Amstrad computers? On the other hand, there are banks that have been around for hundreds of years.

The idea that millennials would go to a bank for financial services advice is also a bit of misnomer to ask in the first place since the FSA ruled banks could not provide advice for certain products to help address the potential conflict of interest when it comes to cross selling.

Thirdly, when you look at the high street in general, we have seen some huge brands folding already – Woolworths, Threshers, JJB Sports amongst the casualty list. It’s been a tough time for anyone on the high street and I think these statistics would mirror what consumers have been saying about shopping online.

So, do banks need to do more to attract millennials? Of course they do, but as this generation gets older and wealthier, banks will intrinsically become more important to them. Consumer confidence in banks has been shaken in recent years, but you will not see them flash and then peter out of existence like certain technology companies. And when it comes to attracting more footfall for branches, until connectivity become ubiquitous and smartphone adoption comprehensive, there will always be a need for a bricks and mortar operation to service customer needs.