Picture a millennial: face glued to their phone, sipping a flat white and scrolling through social media while waiting for a taxi they hailed through an app.
It is no wonder then that, when it comes to competitive threats in the financial advice industry today, automated advice solutions are front of mind – especially when discussions revolve around the wants and needs of younger investors.
Appetite for automation
Given this, we focused part of our recent UK adviser-client survey on gauging investor attitudes to automation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger investors – those under the age of 40 – showed a greater propensity to experiment with automated online services.
Of the 315 advised clients under 40 we surveyed, almost 70 per cent were either currently using, or said they were likely to use, a robo-adviser alongside their financial adviser.
This is a service we defined as providing portfolio management advice using algorithms tailored to your appetite for risk, without human interaction.
Seeking more than advice
Although younger investors may be more willing to adopt robo-advice, our survey also revealed they tend to place a higher importance than their older counterparts on services we consider “holistic”.
This includes helping clients build financial self-confidence and prioritise their goals. These are the very services human advisers are best at providing and, coincidentally, are the hardest to automate.
For example, 84 per cent of investors we surveyed under the age of 40 considered behavioural coaching to be important, compared to just 71 per cent of older investors.
Similarly, 77 per cent of those under 40 felt it was important to explore their emotional relationship with money; this dropped to just 56 per cent of those aged 60 and above.
Younger investors also placed lower importance on the more “traditional” elements of advice, such as providing reports and fund recommendations – the services that are easiest to automate.
While this difference in preferences between traditional and holistic services is significant, our results actually showed that younger investors tended to rate all advisory services as highly important.
As the chart above shows, across the 15 services we looked at, the percentage of younger clients rating each as important ranged between 73 per cent and 86 per cent.
This was unlike the older groups of clients, where there was a much greater change in scores from one service to the next, reaching from a high of 95 per cent to a low of just 39 per cent.
We wondered what could be behind this apparent generational shift in attitudes. One idea was that it could simply be due to the life stage of these investors. Building financial literacy may be a higher priority for younger, less experienced investors.
Are younger investors really that different?
This raises the question: are the needs of younger investors different from their older counterparts, and if so, in what ways?
Growing up with technology and coming of age in the financial crisis will have undoubtedly shaped their experience.