I have had many, many conversations about reaching the millennial customer. We need to be attractive to millennials? Millennials think differently, how do we reach them? Millennials are rejecting banks, is that right? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
The conversation seems to be one amongst older generational people who haven’t realised that the millennials is now their CFO, CEO, CDO and, in some cases, CEO. Millennials are not some strange alien beast, but people who have been born since the internet was invented. They are in their 20s and 30s and they are here, now, amongst and around you.
What strikes me most is that millennials tend to be the ones creating and leading many of the FinTech start-ups like the Collison brothers at Stripe (28 and 26 years old), Ollie Purdue of Loot (23 years old) or Edward Maslaveckas, CEO and co-founder of Bud (26 years old). The challenge today is to think like a Millennial.
A millennial does not have restrictions of experience and history, but thinks with vision and focus. They want to change the world and create tomorrow’s world using technology, having grown up with the internet as their foundation. This is the age of Mark Zuckerberg, poster boy for Web 2.0 and 33 years old.
The difference is that these guys never had the history of experiencing IBM mainframes, the Big Bang, Glass-Steagall or traditional retailing. They live in a world of global connectivity, digital reach, the Global Financial crisis and online everything.
This is part of the reason I challenge bank leadership teams. Bank leadership teams tend to be dominated by male baby boomers. There is nothing wrong with this, except that they lack digital vision. They have experience, for sure, and know the world and the markets. They understand the nature of boom and bust, of risk and audit, of compliance and regulation. Do they understand the digital age? Could they delineate between a blockchain and a distributed ledger? Could they articulate the benefits of machine learning versus artificial intelligence? Do they need to?
I claim they do. Not all of them, but at least some of them. This is the age of banks being FinTechs too, and a FinTech tends to have range. A range of leaders young and old, male and female, and some with Tech and some with Fin experience. A bank does not have that range. Banks tend to be dominated by older, wiser males, with few females and few millennials.
Who needs millennials? Banks do.