Banking On Mobile Content - With A Personal Touch

When it comes to online or mobile banking, there is a presumption that most Boomers would just as soon step up to a teller window or go through the drive-through. Reasons range from security and privacy issues to lack of wireless access, to simply having a higher comfort level with traditional, brick-and-mortar banking. In other words, “talking to a person.”

The rapid evolution of technology has led to tremendous differences in channel preferences among the generations. Millennials and, to a slightly lesser degree, Gen X have grown up with technology. The youngest of them can’t remember a time when there weren’t PCs or laptops in everyone’s house and mobile phones in everyone’s pocket. Boomers, on the other hand, are somewhat less comfortable with technology and, though they may utilize it more than ever, still often prefer person-to-person contact, especially when dealing with questions involving money.



But research shows that those customers are increasingly interested in using digital tools, and that banks, brokerages and investment advisors had better provide them. Don’t forget that this was the same generation using computers at work and at home while most Gen Xers and Gen Ys were still in diapers.

Recent data from mobile ad firm Mojiva shows that more than 50% of those over 55 are now comfortable accessing financial accounts and related apps, as well as using apps for features such as mobile wallets, bookkeeping, budgeting, tax preparation, asset management, brokerage accounts and financial news. 

The rate of growth in mobile financial usage is happening, in part, because technology is becoming more commonplace, and the financial industry has made great strides in security and convenience. As those older generations become more active and comfortable using these channels, they will no doubt be more willing to conduct more complex transactions.

And who’s influencing their decisions? Younger investors, namely adult children and their word-of-mouth recommendations, personal experiences and online reviews.

Speaking of influence, Mojiva notes that 55% of its study’s 1,000 respondents said they are most likely to respond to a mobile ad for a financial service or product, compared to 50% who said it would be a TV ad. A full 63% said they are more likely to respond to a mobile ad for a financial product or service on a financial institution’s app or mobile website. The majority also agreed that mobile ads are good ways to learn about new financial products and services. 

So the technology is there, these folks are obviously not tech amateurs, and they want to use it. What’s the hold-up (no pun intended)?

Experts put the blame squarely on the financial institutions themselves: customer-unfriendly websites and help systems, confusing interfaces, security barriers requiring multiple passwords or logins, and generally lousy online experiences.

It seems that the solution is to blend digital and in-person services, with a strong emphasis on an old-fashioned concept: customer service.

With the first wave of Boomers making the decision on whether or not to retire, age in place or move to a retirement community setting, institutions offering quality banking and investment services as well as a good mix of online, mobile and in-person experiences will be in the best position to reach this audience and their children. 

Given this next generation’s interest in personal technology, promoting services via mobile or online advertising or on ATM screens could be a good way to attract their attention. Likewise, providing links directly to tutorials, live workshops, “personal bankers,” or other additional information could also increase the odds that they’ll at least test out the feature. And once in a while, let them talk to a person.

Bottom line: If what you’re offering doesn’t make their lives easier or better, they won’t use it.

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