The Millennial Investor: Once bitten, twice shy!

Millennials are markedly different in their approach to investing than Baby boomers (Generation X), for one, they grew up and lived their most impressionable years during the great depression and saw the brunt of the housing crisis at its peak. They have also lived through the dot-com bubble and many see the markets as rigged in favour of the big guns.

This created an inherent fear of the stock market in the entire generation. So much so, that they are wary of the traders or investment bankers and see them largely as snake oil salesmen. However, on the flip side, this skepticism and pessimism about the market make them cautious investors. Most millennials are very wary of where they invest their money, hence, they tend to do a lot more research, online and vet any opportunity thoroughly before investing.

The Millennial mindset: Investing with a heart

This tendency of millennials to do their own research about companies also means that they actively seek out companies that reflect their core values. Whether it is being environmentally conscious or ethically sourced, the investor of today cares about putting their money where their heart is. Cutting corners or unethical labour practices can be a death knell in today’s stock market as Millennials care deeply, more than any previous generation, about sustainability and a company’s moral compass. The massive success of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign is evidence of this investing mindset. Although controversial, the campaign that stood in support of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign led to a surge in online sales by almost 31%, mostly driven by Millennials. This despite the backlash by the ‘baby boomer’ generation and by president Trump himself.

Tools for the Millennial investor: Simplified investing with complete transparency

This approach of being ‘invested’ in ‘investing’ means that Millennials are looking for more DIY platforms to investing and more transparency at every stage of the process. They prefer to do their own research and are often on the lookout for tech that makes their lives easier. New age investing platforms are doing just that, providing investors with the tech they need to get started while keeping it simple and user-friendly. Similar to any other choice that they make, millennials care about customer convenience. Similar to an Uber, Venmo, Tinder or any other service that they use, Millennials love services that enable them at the click of a button. Investment platforms are adapting to this by focusing on user experience and convenience for the investor. They are focusing on building solutions also help automate the tedious research that goes into investing and helping create savvy Millennial investors. The investment platforms that will come out on top are those that successfully use tech to simplify the steep learning curve that comes with investing.

Every penny counts: Advanced analytics and tracking for the inquisitive investor

Another defining characteristic of the generation is that they are often burdened with student debt, as well as lower incomes, uncertain futures, and less job security than the baby boomers. In such a scenario, they care more about where every penny is being spent and are less likely to ‘trust’ their Wealth advisors. Wealth management firms have to adapt to this trend by justifying every investing decision or recommendation with hard data and analytics. Platforms like WealthFy that allow for detailed reporting, analytics, portfolio attribution and monitoring will help new investors feel at ease. AI enabled Robo advisory is another major driving force in helping temper ‘gut based’ investing, helping assuage concerns for Millennials who often have a diminished risk appetite.

The Wealth management firm that serves their users with a dedicated and high-quality app along with exceptional customer service is likely to have the edge in landing a Millennial client. Failure to adapt to the shifting paradigms will eventually lead to many of the laggard firms being phased out to be replaced by ‘tech enabled’ firms or by DIY investing platforms.

The advisor’s dilemma – The tightrope of immediate expectations and future goals

The relationship between Wealth advisors and their clients is similar to that of a parent and a child. The client (read child) in this relationship is always tempted by the lure of quick returns and a focus on immediate expectations.

It may be the latest Crypto investment that catches the client’s fancy, or a new mutual fund with very high returns in the last year, or even a stock tip suggested by a peer. However, the advisor (parent) has to step in as the voice of reason at such times. The advisor has to help them meet their long-term financial goals while still giving them adequate short-term returns to keep them invested.

Advisors face a three-pronged dilemma when it comes to clients: Knowledge, Time Allocation and Willpower. The advisor of today is capitalizing on technology and turning to investment platforms equipped with advanced analytics and advisory to overcome them.

Knowledge dilemma:

The advisor is always caught between relaying all of the information to the investor or simplifying it and on a need to know basis. It may seem judicious to tell the investor every small detail, however, such an information overload may often lead to choice paralysis.

 Solution: Strong user experience and data visualization

Investment platforms of today are equipped with user-friendly interfaces and data visualizations. This helps break down and convey complex data in simple charts and graphs that can be easily digested by the investor.

Time allocation dilemma:

In the case of most wealth management firms, the most precious resource is advisor time. A single advisor may be handling up to 20-30 client portfolios in a single year. An advisor has to divide his schedule in a way that every investor gets a fair share of their time. Often advisors have to spend so much time researching and getting up to speed on a customer portfolio before a call/meeting that valuable hours are wasted in preparation rather than customer service.

Solution: Automation of the monitoring and review process

Advisors are now choosing to spend time onboarding a customer onto an investment platform so that investors can monitor and review their portfolio at any time by logging into the system. New age investment platforms equipped with Robo advisory and detailed analytics can help advisors automate most of the research that goes into investing, saving valuable advisor time. These platforms also may have simplified app versions, that can be accessed on the go, so that the advisor can be on top of things 24×7.

Willpower dilemma:

An advisor is only human, in many cases, they might find themselves emotionally attached to a certain fund or scheme. This might be because they have got them attractive returns in the past or because of some underlying bias towards a brand. In such cases, it is hard to be objective even when the scheme is underperforming and it tests the willpower of the advisor.

Solution: Strong decision architecture with Robo advisory

Robo advisors help temper the gut instinct of a human advisor with insights and recommendations powered by data. Advisors are often blinded by bias and refuse to make tough decisions such as dropping a fund or booking a loss. The investment platforms of today simplify their detailed analytics into actionable insights and recommendations, helping advisors overcome their blind spots and rebalance their portfolio to chart their course to safer waters.

The mutual benefits for investors and advisors

Adoption of ‘Investment platforms’ by Wealth management firms gives advisors the ability to focus on customer service and ensures that investors have complete transparency on their portfolio.

There is a slow yet steady push towards leveraging Analytics and AI in the space. Indian investors are picking up on global cues to demand world-class technology from their wealth advisors.

Although the ‘investment technology’ space is still nascent in the country, there are already a few emerging market pioneers. Wealthfy, the Robo advisory enabled investment platform from Valuefy was recently awarded ‘Best Wealth Management Technology Platform’ at AIWMI’s  India Wealth Awards 2018, the biggest and most prestigious showcase of excellence in the Wealth management industry. Over 30 leading institutions like Reuters, Aditya Birla Group, Kotak AMC and WGC have already adopted the platform and other Financial institutions are following suit.

Eventually, the adoption of investment platforms will become the new status quo. These platforms help make the process of investing more transparent. With the focus on simplification, rather than obfuscation, investment platforms are helping empower Indian investors and advisors alike.