Last week I had the opportunity to cover Mad*Pow‘s Financial Experience Design (FXD) conference in Boston, a place where design leaders serving banks, insurance providers, educational nonprofits, and investment companies come together to talk about how to optimize experiences for their customers. For a play-by-play, check out #FXD2018 and my thread on Twitter.
1 Health and Wealth
Day 1, at the pre-conference leadership summit, during the very first discussion, the inextricable link between health and wealth came up, and it kept coming up throughout the conference, as evidenced by Twitter.
— Sean Erreger, LCSW (@StuckonSW) October 25, 2018
Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, you’ll have medical scares throughout your life (if you’re unlucky, you might have a chronic invisible disability). Part of Financial Wellbeing is being able to pay when a surprise medical bill comes.
The bigger, more annoying part of financial wellbeing? You cannot force someone to save, just as you can’t force someone to be healthy. I am down around 70 pounds from my highest weight right now, and it’s not because of lectures on the BMI scale. Serving today’s savers and investors means giving them tools and resources that empower and meet them where they’re at in their financial journeys.
2 Millennial Communication Gap
“Millennial” is still such a maligned word, and there were several discussions about how to design and appeal to this generation at FXD.
The strangest part to me is that as of this writing, millennials are roughly between 22-37 years old, which is a vast fifteen-year spread of people (including myself). Some millennials have just graduated college, whereas others have four kids and holiday in Paris. We’re not “those young kids” anymore; we’re your coworkers and friends.
This communication gap is not just being felt by financial institutions. While I was performing my best Professional Live Tweeter impression during the conference, the quote, “Usefulness is 1.5 times more important than usability,” was the most retweeted by my largely-millennial audience. Companies don’t know how to appeal to millennials, and millennials don’t feel like they’re being heard. What gives?
As Melissa Gopnick of Commonwealth said, “It’s not a problem of knowledge; it’s a problem of options.” Traditional financial institutions started out with vastly different consumers. The 1960 dream of a single income household, white picket fenced house, 2 ½ kids, and a stable, clear career path is now an outlier.
Design the conversation and meet people where they are — Marli Mesibov (Mad*Pow)
Telling someone to care about retirement contributions when they’re struggling to pay rent or have staggering student loans is simply not going to work well.
Financial institutions could learn a lot from speaking to millennials like Kara Perez, who paid off $25,302 in student loans after starting off making $16,183 in 2013. She’s now focused on helping low-income women through workshops and tools like her new Values-Based Budgeting Workbook. There’s also Steven Hughs, who started his financial journey with seven maxed out credit cards, two repossessions, and an eviction. He’s now a Certified Financial Education Instructor and helps college students start their finances off right.
There are so many millennials with stories to tell in the personal finance space. I will happily serve as blog sommelier if it means fixing the millennial communication gap with financial institutions.
I have a brand new, hardcover copy of Dollars & Sense to giveaway to one lucky reader, signed by author Jeff Kreisler. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below (by November 8th) answering the following questions:
- Where you are in your life and/or financial journey (e.g. Gen X focused on paying off debt)?
- What do you have to say to financial institutions about how to better serve you?