As founder of the Young Money Blog, I can honestly say that I feel very proud to work in the financial field. Most of us don’t intend to come into this sector (I trained as a musician, for Pete’s sake!) but I am pretty sure that what keeps us here is a genuine desire to help people.
Something that makes me feel less proud? The financial industry’s well-documented problems with diversity. And that’s not just reflected in the make-up of the industry, still mostly belonging to one demographic (we can all guess which one…)
It’s also reflected in its offering to the public. Products and services largely cater to well-established interest groups, such as high net wealth individuals, and those in the know.
Meanwhile, those who suffer from a poverty of opportunity, education and experience don’t get much of a look-in. When it comes to young consumers, the financial sector has a particularly inglorious track record of either exploiting or neglecting us.
It has got away with this because “millennials” are often poorly educated and largely disengaged when it comes to money. Another problem is that young people today do not reliably encounter the same milestones at predictable ages as the baby-boomers (largely) did.
If we’re not all getting married, all having children, all getting on the housing ladder, what are the new catalysts for seeking advice? If we have don’t have those long-term, complicated financial assets that allow for neat percentage-based charges, how on earth does the financial industry make itself relevant – and affordable – for generation Y?