Young professionals often seem to be misunderstood, particularly by financial services providers whose frequent complaint is that we can be hard to reach, or that we send mixed messages. Recent conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues, alongside a recent survey we’ve undertaken, shows yopros (“young professionals”) aren’t so mysterious after all.
Our life experience is different to previous generations, so it’s important to take a moment to consider the context. We are digital natives who expect rapid innovation. Technology means we’re globally networked, making us ultra-aware of our peers. And we have only experienced a financial system in crisis, buffeted by destabilising geo-political forces. Yopros have only been financially conscious in a post-crash world of low interest rates and lack of trust in institutions 211; the idea of a 5% interest rate is alien to us. “Historically low interest rates” are, for many of us, all we’ve known as adults. Against this backdrop it’s no surprise that we are often financially conservative or at least partially distrustful of those who provide financial services and products.
It’s this experience which means yopros, like me, have radically different needs. It simply isn’t true that we‘re an opaque bunch: whilst we are an inherently diverse group, we have a few basic unifying wants and needs. The companies who wish to sell us financial products simply need to understand us.
Technology first. This runs through everything and should be a part of every interaction between financial services providers and yopros. That’s not to say that we don’t want branches or someone at the end of the phone when we have a problem, but it should be technology first when it comes to meeting a yopro’s needs. Technology is a huge part of our identity: we expect our banks, insurers and others to be fully digital – meaning more than having an app. We want technology-enabled products to solve issues and make our lives easier: I don’t want to have to send you documents in the post or go to a branch for specific services – I want to go online.
Trusted brands. Yopros crave simplicity, honesty, and transparency and expect this in all aspects of our lives. By and large, we trust Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon: we want to be able to trust financial services institutions in the same way. This means being upfront and transparent about fees and charges, for instance; it means helpful and friendly customer service across a range of channels to help us when things go wrong. Ultimately, we want financial institutions we can trust, not ones that create hassle in our busy lives.
Understanding. Yopros quickly and easily compare thousands of options when booking a holiday, and we expect to be able to do the same for financial products. We want to understand our own financial wellbeing and the financial products on offer – this is not the case currently and we’ll admit that. Financial services companies should communicate with us the way we communicate with our peers: we want them to use technology to help us understand their products. Given our contextual experiences so far, we can be risk averse, so make it simple and clear for us. Complexity diminishes trust.
Targeted products. Yopros want products designed with their needs in mind. Today it seems the products we’re offered were created for someone else entirely. Often yopros have modest savings which are not sufficient for many of the investment options available, so we need products for smaller savers to encourage us to save. There are a number of considerations that apply to yopros, such as struggling with low credit scores (perhaps because we’ve been abroad or at university) which makes getting our first credit cards difficult or finding the insurance products to satisfy our travel and our position as renters, many of whom move frequently. The products we’ll engage with need to address these yopro characteristics.
While I don’t claim to hold all the answers, I do think the needs of yopros aren’t as complex as they’re made to seem. As we make our way in the world and develop in our careers, our personal lives, our financial lives, we need, and want, all the help we can get. That’s where you come in, and technology holds the key to understanding and engaging us.
Keep an eye out for our new co-branded report with Innovate Finance, launching later this week!