When it comes to money management, millennials are the black sheep of the financial family.
They prefer Spotify (subscribing) over iTunes (buying); would rather call Ubers than buy cars and will rent apartments rather than invest in properties. Despite earning much less money and being in a lot more debt from a younger age, they flock to expensive metropolitan hubs. They prefer to spend on experiences rather than investing in the future.
Unlike their parent’s generation, millennials have received very little formal financial education. They grew up in the age of digital banking and and credit cards, which has since evolved into a "cashless" society of mobile payments and automated checkouts, leaving them detached from their spending.
So, how can fintech startups help them to manage their money better in the future?
Being the "on-demand" generation means keeping on top of subscriptions, on top of regular payments like rent, and daily expenditures — all of which makes it easier to overspend and end up in the red. One in ten have said that they run an overdraft at least ten times per year.
Luckily, a new generation of "financial wellness" services is being launched to bring saving and spending to the forefront of people’s minds.
Real-time notification apps like Mint provide a mental cue of how much is being spent, how much is left in accounts and any pending payments, to save millennials from nasty — and costly — surprises. Pocket Guard helps millennials budget, and then prompts them to stick to their plans with daily expenditure limits and alerts.
In both their professional and social lives, millennials are busier than ever. Nine-to-five jobs are a thing of the past as technology blurs the lines between home and office with constant connectability. This is a generation that prides itself on working and playing hard.
As a result, millennials look for automation. Put simply, they want services which will work in the background to do things for them.
Contrary to popular belief, millennials are actually better at saving than their parent generation, but as a back-up, apps like Digit, which round up transactions, make it easier to save subconsciously, and also prompt users to put something aside when they have extra in their accounts. Acorns automatically invests user’s spare change, rounding each transaction made to the nearest dollar, while also offering "hands off" investment options.
Expensify automates expense reporting for businesses. With just a photo of the receipt, the app files the expense with the employer, and then transfers the funds to the employee. For daily expenses like coffee or Uber trips, the payment is made automatically with no need for approval. Rocket Mortgage automated the mortgage process for Quicken loans, cutting the time-consuming administrative tasks required to refinance or buy a property.
While millennials are pro-active when it comes to saving, they have been slow to enter the world of investment. According to a recent survey, only 9 percent of Millennials consider themselves investors.
Investing used to be reserved for the rich and famous, but now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, we are seeing a rise in "robo-advisor" services. These services lower the barrier of entry to as little as a hundred dollars, and offer advice and make financial decisions for users based on pre-set limits.
Betterment allows users to set a risk profile, and then moves funds from their accounts to make small investments on their behalf. Robin Hood requires the user to choose their investment, but makes it a lot easier than through traditional stock channels.
Advisor apps like Wallaby advise millennials about the best credit card options based on points and their day-to-day spending habits, giving them all the information they need in a streamlined format, to make choices based on personal finances. Albert makes recommendations on how to improve financial health, including tips on choosing suitable insurance policies and credit cards based on users’ real spending habits.
What millennials may lack in financial education, they make up for in tech-savvy. We can hope that the financial situation becomes a bit easier for millennials in the future — higher wages, fairer loans, and lower property prices and education costs — there is little chance that the government or big banks are going to give them the break they need any time soon. For now it's up to the booming fintech industry to offer help.
Daniel Schwartz is the Managing Director of Moven, a fintech startup addressing the new needs of the digitally enabled customer.