It’s been said that traditional asset managers have failed to attract millennial investors because they don't understand what they want. Start-ups in the sector seem to have stolen a march by offering simple interfaces, online and through apps, which don’t rely on direct human contact and provide products which are easy to understand. Perhaps most importantly those services and products also tend to be much cheaper than those offered by traditional asset managers.
As these new platforms are adopted in ever greater numbers by younger investors and the gross totals invested through those platforms continues to rise, it will be interesting to see whether traditional asset managers wake up and smell the organic, Fairtrade, sustainable, single-origin coffee too late to take advantage of the growth opportunities presented.
Assuming they don’t, one might expect them to look to acquire more innovative businesses with younger customers rather than build their own, especially in light of the recent consolidation trend in the industry. With speculation that it is only a matter of time before one or more of the big technology firms enters this space as well, the next few years is likely to be a very interesting time in a sector, which might historically have been thought of as sleepy. Must be the stronger coffee brought by those millennials…
Many new services employ the technology that millennials use as second nature — smartphone apps and chatbots powered by artificial intelligence — and they are intended to create a savings habit. They have attracted millions of users. While initial investments made by younger people are small compared with older savers, the start-ups’ growth trajectory and the economic power of millennials is posing a significant threat to the traditional sales strategies of large asset managers.