Practical analysis for investment professionals
25 June 2015

How to Talk to Millennials about Money

Millennials get a bad rap. The term itself has become synonymous with “distracted” — a quality perhaps best embodied by the infamous selfie stick. Not surprisingly, appealing to millennials in financial matters can be difficult.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy, CFA, principal and portfolio manager at O’Shaughnessy Asset Management and author of Millennial Money: How Young Investors Can Build a Fortune (read the Enterprising Investor review), recently discussed the qualities that make the generation unique, and how best to work with its members.

One major issue that O’Shaughnessy considers in depth is millennial disillusion with financial services. Four of the 10 most-hated brands among millennials are the big banks. O’Shaughnessy attributes this distrust to the tumultuous markets millennials have experienced: “Think about what we’ve been through: two bad stock market crashes, a generally bad economy, tough jobs market, housing market crash — all of these things have been imprinted on our brains really, and it’s made us very skeptical.”

O’Shaughnessy thinks that challenging these preconceived notions about financial institutions is crucial for positively engaging with millennials. “I think one of the keys to working with us is to attack that skepticism a little bit, to frame things in the right way and really to educate young people as much as possible,” he says.

When it comes to the actual process of investing, O’Shaughnessy believes it’s best to keep emotion out of it. “I find that the more involved human beings are, the more subjective emotional decisions, the worse the returns for investors,” he says. “Strip yourself out of the equation, and automate things.”

Nevertheless, emotional appeal may prove crucial in connecting with millennials. “I think that the key . . . is to appeal to more immediate needs, frustrations, things you can solve for them now,” O’Shaughnessy says, “while of course also planning for retirement, and also appeal to their emotions rather than their reason — it’s a more powerful way to get us to act.”

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

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8 thoughts on “How to Talk to Millennials about Money”

  1. Afshan Rajabpour says:

    yes ….intuitive decision making

    1. Sam Del Rowe says:

      Thanks for reading!

  2. dan says:

    I had a rough time with trading and investing until I got a mentor and i’m doing great now. You should do what I did that helped me greatly in this game. Go check out

  3. Franz says:

    Lack of trust in financial institutions is the gap between millennials and the success of new generations

    1. Sam Del Rowe says:

      Very true–thanks for reading!

  4. Gaston A. says:

    Very interesting video. I resonate with the idea of appealing to immediate needs and emotions when trying to engage Millennials, as Patrick mentions. Thanks for the article.

    1. Sam Del Rowe says:

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Normand says:

    Here’s what parents and older generations should focus on when talking to Gen Y about money.

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