Get to Know Mass Affluents’ Digital Banking Habits

By February 1, 2019 May 14th, 2019 CCG Financial Marketing Blog

See what makes wealthy “Generation Digital” consumers tick — and how to win them over.

You know about the mass affluent market. You know about Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. You’re probably gaining perspective on Generation Z. But what happens when you layer digital banking preferences on top of these segments? You might get some surprises. We provide a peek behind the curtain to help you win over the mass affluent “Generation Digital” audience and keep them faithful.

Who are we talking about?

We’re defining the mass affluent segment as households with $100,000 to $1 million in investable assets. By Nielsen figures, the group makes up 11 percent of U.S. households and controls 26 percent of the country’s wealth.¹

By generation, Baby Boomers (41 percent) and Gen Xers (37 percent) make up the majority of this group, while millennials comprise just 9 percent.2,3

Next, we overlayed the mass affluent segment with what Accenture dubbed Generation D (for digital, of course): 75 million consumers “who are deeply digital, integrating online and social technologies into the fabric of their lives.”4

As a general rule, Gen Z is still too young to fit the investable asset criteria we set for mass affluent consumers. (In one study, at least, mass affluent for this segment of 18 to 22-year-olds was defined as investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000; or $20,000 to $50,000 with a minimum annual income of $50,000.)5 Nonetheless, they’ve already been nicknamed the Digital Generation, which makes them worthy of including in this discussion.

Table 12,3,4

Mass affluents and Generation D

What makes them different — and what does it mean to you?

Like other mass affluents, wealthy Generation D consumers have high expectations for customer service. They want personalization, convenience and flexibility in their banking and investment interactions. And, of course, they’re keyed-in to digital technology. In fact, with 28 percent of all retail bank customers now digital only, you can be assured a larger proportion of this group fits that profile.6

But what does that mean in terms of banking? In general terms, it means that you need to offer service levels via digital channels that match (or surpass) what you offer in-branch. You need to ensure that your communications are accessible — and provide a top user experience — across all types of digital devices. And you have to offer the digital-based banking features and functions that this group values, from basic online and mobile banking to advanced investment platforms, helpful online tools and advice, multiple payment methods and more.

In the rest of this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Generation D values and offer some examples of how your financial institution can provide it.

They have device preferences.

Mass affluent millennials and boomers are highly likely to own a smartphone, with 93 percent and 73 percent ownership respectively — compared to 71 percent of the adult mobile population as a whole.2

Tablets are also popular, with 42 percent of wealthy millennials and 38 percent of wealthy boomers claiming one, versus 33 percent of the general mobile population.2

Interestingly, wealthy millennials prefer to manage banking tasks online rather than with a mobile device.2 But more than two-thirds of Gen Z prefer to bank using a mobile app.7

  • What it means for you: Since most financial institutions target multiple audiences, you’ll find it helpful to make sure your services and communications provide a great customer experience across all devices. For example, use responsive or elastic design that automatically adjusts based on screen size. Make sure to adapt your content by device and format, too. For instance, an email received on a laptop can provide more images and information than a text message read on a smartphone.

They have surprising payment preferences.

Who knew? A whopping 71 percent of mass affluent millennials don’t trust mobile devices for making transactions — more than the 67 percent of mass affluent boomers who feel the same way.2

Yet, wealthy millennials are highly like to use digital payment methods like PayPal, Checkout by Amazon or Google Checkout.2 Nearly half of baby boomers also say they would favor a digital wallet over a traditional bank app.7 And, while Gen Z actually outpaces millennials when it comes to using mobile payments, Zs are more likely to use cash for in-store purchases.7 In fact, despite the digital revolution, cash remains the most frequently used payment method overall.7

  • What it means for you: Don’t assume that millennials prefer their mobile device for everything. Make sure they — and every generation — can interact with your bank and your staff easily via any type of device. And, if you haven’t already, it’s time to get on board with digital wallets, whether your own or through a partnership.

They go online to gather information.

Three-fourths of Generation D use at least one online channel to learn about products or services.4 That includes learning about financial products, services and related topics.

For instance, more than two-thirds of millennials would like their banks to provide tools to help them build and monitor a budget.8 Similarly, 70 percent of Gen Xers want to improve their financial planning skills and want help doing it. Meanwhile, mass affluent investors want access to scenario-based portfolio reviews. And 84 percent of mass affluent boomers, plus 79 percent of mass affluent millennials “value a knowledgeable financial broker or advisor who they trust” when making financial decisions.¹

  • What it means for you: If you don’t already have a content library on your website, it’s time to build one. Providing value-added (versus promotional) content to your customers helps position you as that knowledgeable, trustworthy advisor. Include multiple formats, such as articles/blogs, step-by-step how-to’s, checklists, Q&As, quizzes and short videos. Also bolster your traditional services with digital tools, such as calculators, financial dashboards, interactive budget planners and more.

They’re open to the idea of bank alternatives.

As you might expect, Gen Z — full of digital natives — is the most comfortable using digital means to move money. One-third of this group don’t expect to rely solely on banks for financial services needs in the future. Forty-four percent of them expect to use both traditional banking services and fintech options, with a smaller percentage of millennials (37 percent) and Gen X (27 percent) feeling the same.9

  • What it means for you: Make sure that your bank offers all the convenience, simplicity and accessibility provided by fintech competitors. That includes allowing customers to sign and submit paperwork digitally. It may also mean considering new partnerships with innovative technology providers who would make better allies than competitors, as well as local merchants you can work with to deliver special offers to select consumers.

They’re just fine with automation — as long as it’s personal.

Consumers in the digitally-focused mass affluent segment are content using online calculators, dashboards and other tools rather than having a personal discussion every time they want advice. Roughly half want you to be proactive in suggesting solutions to their financial needs.² And they want that information to be based on their own behaviors, lifestyles and financial goals — preferably in real time.

Mass affluents in general want a simple, flexible online tool for reviewing their financial accounts. Ideally, they’d like to see all of their account information in one place — including accounts from multiple institutions. And they want the ability to see how different scenarios can affect their financial plans.10

  • What it means for you: In the past, providing portfolio management services to any group except high-net-worth customers was cost-prohibitive. By leveraging automation, you could expand this valued service to a new audience. Artificial intelligence tools may also allow you to more easily gather, analyze and act on consumer data to provide uber-personalized solutions and advice.

They want to be recognized.

As befits the Me Generation (millennials), the group that raised them (boomers) and higher-wealth clients, Generation D mass affluents want to be recognized in-branch and online as important customers. (Note: While some millennials have Gen X parents, the majority are the children of boomers.)

  • What it means for you: To help retain the mass affluent Generation D, shower them with VIP treatment. Consider offering priority service or special discounts from partners. But make the primary focus truly understanding their needs — and letting them know you do through highly targeted messages, offers, products and services.

They care about the basics.

Even with this tech-savvy, digitally focused audience, core values still matter. A lot. More than 80 percent of mass affluent boomers and millennials find a bank’s reputation very important, whether they’re choosing a financial institution or making product decisions.¹ Gen X mass affluents, in particular, place great importance on excellent, consistent customer service, regardless of channel.

  • What it means for you: While you’re prioritizing and optimizing your digital experience, don’t neglect the values that made you a success in the first place. After all, traits like integrity, transparency and personable service can give you a win with every generation.

No matter which demographics make up your customer and prospect base, CCG’s financial marketing experts can help you identify them, understand them and effectively communicate with them. Put CCG’s four decades of expertise to work for you. Schedule a free consultation with a financial strategist or call 800.525.0313.

  1. “Digital Enablement for Retail Banking,” The Nielsen Company, posted Nov. 25, 2014, https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2014/digital-enablement-for-retail-banking.html, accessed Nov. 19, 2018
  2. “Banking on the Mass Affluent: Millennials with Money,” Lisa Joyce, The Financial Brand, posted Sept. 18, 2017, https://thefinancialbrand.com/67492/banking-mass-affluent-millennials/, accessed Nov. 19, 2018
  3.  “Gen Xers get no respect!” Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen, ABA Bank Marketing, posted Aug. 18, 2017, https://ababankmarketing.com/insights/gen-xers-get-no-respect/, accessed Nov. 9, 2018
  4. “Targeting and Serving the Mass Affluent Client,” BAI Retail Delivery presentation, posted Nov. 13, 2014, http://docplayer.net/9551061-Targeting-and-serving-the-mass-affluent-client-november-13-2014.html, accessed Nov. 19, 2018
  5. “It’s Official: Rich People Are Relying on Their Rich Parents,” Tanza Loudenback, BusinessInsider.com, posted June 7, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/merrill-lynch-survey-millennials-gen-z-rely-on-inheritance-2018-6, accessed Nov. 12, 2018
  6. “Banks Face Digital Divide Between Millennials, Gen X,” Tanya Gazdik, MediaPost.com, posted April 30, 2018, https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/318424/banks-face-digital-divide-between-millennials-gen.html, accessed Nov. 19, 2018
  7. “Accenture: Gen Z Embraces Mobile Banking and Frequent Branch Visits,” Robert Williams, MobileMarketer.com, posted Oct. 18, 2017, https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/accenture-gen-z-embraces-mobile-banking-and-frequent-branch-visits/507548/, accessed Nov. 19, 2018
  8. “Winning Millennials, Gen X and Boomers in a Digital World,” MX.com, https://www.mx.com/resources/2015/5/7/winning-millennials-gen-x-boomers-in-a-digital-world, accessed Nov. 9, 2018
  9. “Gen Z Comes of Age in the Age of Digital Banking,” Andrew Vahrenkamp, ATMMarketplace.com, posted June 15, 2018, https://www.atmmarketplace.com/blogs/gen-z-comes-of-age-in-the-age-of-digital-banking/, accessed Nov. 8, 2018
  10. “Digitally Engaging the Mass Affluent,” Katie Kuehner-Hebert, BAI.org, posted Oct. 1, 2014, https://www.bai.org/banking-strategies/article-detail/digitally-engaging-the-mass-affluent, accessed Nov. 8, 2018

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