Based on his opening address to PBI’s recent Private Banking and Wealth Management Germany conference in Frankfurt, WealthInsight head, Oliver Williams, shares some observations and abolishes some stereotypes of millennials and Generation Z

In the lexicon of marketing lingo, generation z and millennial are some of the most clichéd terms. But generation zs and millennials, born from mid-1990s to the mid-2000s and from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s respectively, will soon enter the private banking market.

According to WealthInsight data, among the 3.5 million HNWIs due to be created in the next five years, at least 265,000 will be either millennials or generation zs. Beyond 2022 the curve of new generation z and millennials worth more than $1m will only escalate faster.

Today, though, few of their cohorts are wealthy enough to merit attention from private banks. The few industry assumptions on millennials and generation z are therefore dated or void. This article seeks to correct a few of the entrenched stereotypes of these generations.

Generation z and millennials are always on social media

If few millennials remember a time without the internet, then most of generation z do not remember a time without the iphone or one of its many incarnations (they aren’t called the ‘i-generation’ for no reason).

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While social media has gone hand-in-hand with these innovations, recent research has shown its popularity among younger generations to be waning.

Data firm eMarketer predicts 2m Americans under the age of 24 will quit Facebook this year. While Instagram and Snapchat will hoover up some of the fallout, others are quitting social media altogether according to communications firm Hill Holliday.

In a survey of one thousand 18 to 24 year-olds in the US, Hill Holliday found that 34 percent have already quit social media; 58 percent are “seeking relief”.  Commenting on the results, chief strategy officer, Lesley Bielby sees this as a global movement: “We see signs in the [qualitative] data everywhere. My feeling is it’s more of a cohort thing than a cultural thing”.

While social media may still be the place to connect with millennials and generation z, it may not be in five or 10 years’ time when they come into significant wealth. The #deletefacebook movement, which was triggered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and after both these studies were conducted, looks like it will exacerbate this trend.

Next generation programs will keep millennials and generation z engaged with the bank

‘Next gen’ programmes have now been launched by almost every major private bank. Normally lasting a couple of days and hosted in various cities around the world, these programmes include classes on investing, a field trip or case study of a successful family firm and plenty of socialising and networking.

In inviting a client’s offspring to one of these programmes, a private banker may hope to win them over by the time they inherit. Inheritors, however, only make up a portion of the aforementioned 265,000 millennials and generation z due to become wealthy over the next five years.

Further analysis of WealhtInsight’s data reveals that approximately 40% of these new HNWIs will be entrepreneurs and inheritors respectively. The remaining 20% will earn their wealth through a salaried position.

This means any bank targeting only inheritors will miss out on the lion’s share of young and newly wealthy individuals. The percentage of young entrepreneurial HNWIs will only grow faster in time according to the latest research on these generations.

A study by Bentley University found that two thirds (67 percent) of the American millennials they surveyed said their goal involves starting a businesses.

In the UK, a survey of 1,720 people aged 18-30 by the Prince’s Trust and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) found that 41 percent of respondents wanted to set up a business and 78% of these say they have a business idea in mind.

Younger HNWIs will flock to robo-advisors and digital banks

Robo-advisers, online platforms that automate investing, should appeal to a generation that was raised on the internet and instinctively distrusts traditional establishments.

Unexpectedly, however, most robo-advisers have found their biggest audience is nearing or have already retired. Two thirds of Vanguard’s Personal Advisor service are of this age and roughly half of Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio customers are older than 50. Consultancy Spectrum Group puts the average robo-advisor user at 48. (

Even more surprising is the faith that young people place in human over robotic advisors when it comes to investing. A poll of 500 millennials in the US by loan marketplace LendEDU ( found that seven in 10 millennials think human advisors can provide better returns on their investments. Only 24 percent invest through robo-advisors, 62 percent of those that do not cite fears of robo-advisers putting their investment at risk.

Not for five or ten years will millennials make up a significant portion of a private bank’s books and still more for generation z. However, in the intervening years it is critical private banks register the way these two generations saves and spends. These notoriously demanding generations will only consider those that meet their expectations.