In May 2012, Accenture launched a research project on “Generation D” investors and advisors—Millennials, Gen-Xers and Boomers who depend increasingly on digital interactions. Our four-part “Gen D in Focus” series in September and October revealed preliminary insights from our focus groups, which we subsequently explored and refined using quantitative techniques. Today, I’m sharing key results from our survey of Gen D investors.

A new breed of investor

The financial crash and the rise of digital and social channels have changed how consumers view the financial community and approach wealth management. A new group of investors—one defined by behaviors rather than traditional demographics—is emerging. Our recent online survey of more than 1,000 current and future investors revealed three key findings:

  1. Gen D is a vitally important group of investors. In the United States alone, this new market segment numbers more than 75 million and holds nearly $27 trillion in assets. Although Millennials account for just 5 percent of Gen D assets today, an estimated $30 trillion in assets will shift from Baby Boomers to their heirs over the next 20 to 30 years.
  2. Confidence in financial advisors is eroding. Many Gen D investors perceive financial advisors as salespeople who push products that enrich their firms rather than their clients. Of the 59 percent that recently sought financial advice, only 40 percent looked to a financial advisor. Furthermore, 28 percent of Millennials that get advice from a financial advisor will vet that advice with another source.
  3. Investors are seeking information to mitigate risk. Gen D investors, particularly Millennials, want to understand the risks and benefits of different investment vehicles before making decisions. Over half sought financial advice from someone other than a financial advisor—including family, friends and social media contacts—in the past two years.

Cultivating relationships with next-generation investors

Gen D investors, particularly Millennials, represent a significant opportunity for financial services firms, but few organizations have robust relationships with this consumer segment. Looking ahead, wealth and asset managers must focus on:

  • Finding, attracting and retaining these clients.
  • Adapting customer experiences to suit their expectations and preferences.
  • Defining a new role for financial advisors in the digital age.

Join me next week when I reveal the results from our survey of Gen D advisors.

To learn more, download Generation D: An Emerging and Important Investor Segment (pdf; opens in a new window).

Learn more about the research project

Review focus group results in our “Gen D in Focus” series:

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