Industry Surveys

Exclusive: Older Generations Will Adapt To New Wealth Tech - Report

Robbie Lawther, Assistant Editor, 26 September 2018


Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking conducted a panel survey of more than 1,000 affluent and high net worth individuals, of which more than 160 were aged 55 and older.

According to a new report, in spite of common negative perceptions of silver surfers (digital users aged 55 and older) as being reluctant to use fintech, older affluent and high net worth individuals can adapt to new technology for their investing and banking.
For the report “Silver Surfers in Wealth Management 2018”, Swiss research company MyPrivateBanking conducted a panel survey in the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Switzerland addressing the digital needs and preferences of more than1,000 affluent and high net worth individuals, of which more than 160 were aged 55 and older.

The research shows that silver surfers, in many respects, show more commonalities with younger age cohorts than differences. They show similar usage patterns of and preferences for wealth management apps and mobile website features as Millennials and Gen-Xers, although older respondents have lower usage rates of apps and mobile websites overall.

MyPrivateBanking suggested the following steps that firms need to take to keep and win over silver surfers as a client segment in the age of digital wealth management:

- Wealth managers should not treat silver surfers like technophobes. This segment has more commonalities than differences with younger age groups in technology use for financial operations;

- Security and privacy are the biggest barriers for silver surfers. Wealth managers should focus on the security and privacy of their apps and robo-advisors, and communicate these features to their silver surfer clients to create trust;

- Silver surfers are receptive to the idea of using robo-advisors in the future but remain cautious. Offering hybrid robo advice is the best way to convince undecided silver surfers to use these tools;

- Developments and improvements to wealth managers’ desktop websites and client-only areas should focus on wealth overview and transaction/payment features, whereas developments and improvements to their robo advisory tools should focus on portfolio monitoring features; and

- Wealth managers should cater for silver surfers who are self-directed investors to help them keep control of their investments. Wealth managers can do this by providing an online investment platform as well as by offering different levels of advice, including “advice lite” services.

Despite having commonalities with younger age cohorts, MyPrivateBanking also found differences between silver surfers and other generations.

It said that silver surfers used wealth management apps (52 per cent), mobile websites (53 per cent) and robo-advisors (11 per cent) less than the overall sample. Overall 71 per cent of clients used wealth management apps, some 72 per cent used a banking website and 29 per cent used robo-advisors.

Greater concern about maintaining human interaction as part of the advisory relationship, with 23% of silver surfers in our sample choosing this as a reason not to use an app vs. 18% of the overall sample.

Around 23 per cent of silver surfers do not use apps because they have a greater concern about maintaining human interaction as part of the advisory process, compared with 18 per cent of the overall sample.

Lastly, 47 per cent of silver surfers identified their investment mandate as self-directed, compared with only 28 per cent of the general sample, 29 per cent of Gen-Xers, and 19 per cent of Millennials.

“Silver surfers do not shy away from technology, but in fact embrace it and are reasonably well connected,” said Caroline Cabrera John, senior analyst at MyPrivateBanking. “Our research shows that HNWIs aged 55 and older are open to new technologies and this brings great opportunities for wealth managers who are balancing digital transformations with the need to appease older, traditional clienteles. Wealth managers and private bankers can extend their digital services offers to high net worth individuals aged 55 and older rather easily, as a significant portion of this age group is already using these services and do have digital behaviours and attitudes that are similar to those of other age groups. The digital means are there, but it needs the tailoring of these offerings to reach and engage silver surfers. Wealth managers just cannot afford to digitally ignore this very attractive client segment.”

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