Gen Y Is Going To Need Financial Guidance More Than Most

GenY shoppingGeneration Y may not be savers yet, but they will be someday--out of necessity as much as desire--and the opportunity to reach them is now.

"There's a niche opportunity there for those that want it," Susan Menke, senior financial services analyst at Mintel, tells Marketing Daily. "They don't have the asset accumulation now, but in 10 to 20 years, they'll be making as much as Baby Boomers are now."

According to Mintel research, members of Generation Y--defined as people born between 1977 and 1994--make up only about 5% of financial advisors' client base. And though those twenty-somethings may not have copious amounts of disposable income, they do have financial goals they'd like to achieve, Menke says.

"A lot of Gen Y kids are more responsible than people give them credit for," Menke says. "There's a segment that's responsible and ready for life-stage planning."



Many Gen Y consumers have a picture of where they'd like to be financially by the time they're 35, Menke says. Often, that picture includes owning a house, having children and being free of student loan debt. ("They've been saddled with a lot more student debt than the generation before them," Menke says.) A savvy financial firm would look to approach such consumers with a way to meet those life-stage goals to develop a longer-term relationship that could include investment and retirement planning.

"The key is to build your model so that you're targeting both short-term profit and long-term potential profit," she says.

Doing so, however, might mean altering some marketing strategies. According to Mintel Comperemedia, which tracks direct marketing, adults under the age of 30 only received 2% of investment direct mail offers in 2007. (By contrast, adults over age 60 received 41% of the mailings.) Other strategies would include savvier Internet marketing (such as setting up a Gen Y-dedicated Web portal) and more targeted segmenting of Gen Y consumers, Menke says.

Gen Y consumers are in need of financial advice, Menke says. They have been saddled with more student debt than previous generations, are continuing to rack up credit card debt, and are not putting money away for retirement or other savings. According to Mintel, less than a third of Gen Y workers who are able to participate in a tax-deferred retirement savings plan are doing so, even though they are the generation most in need of financial planning.

"They're the ones that are going to have the worst of it," Menke says. "Most members of Gen Y are not going to get an inheritance. They're going to have to rely on themselves more than any other generation."

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