Photograph of ‘I unfriend you!’ The Allstate offshoot- The Daily, 18 January 2015, By Mail Online Reporter
Meet Irene. She’s a 65-year-old first-time grandmother. Just a few years ago, the perception of Irene’s digital skills would likely match the character in a popular insurance commercial. The jovial granny had created a Facebook-esque literal wall of pictures and “unfriended” one of her disagreeable peers. Well, for Irene – that’s not how any of this works!

The truth is, Irene more likely owns a smartphone, which she might check 80 times a day[1]. She probably orders off Alexa or at least Amazon Prime, gets her news from social media and possibly even talks to her doctor through any of a growing menu of video chat solutions. And she almost certainly is viewing and sharing photos of her baby grandchild with the entire world via Facebook and iMessage.

So the trope of the doddering old grandma completely befuddled by technology is most likely incorrect. Worse, it perpetuates a stereotype that does financial firms a disservice. Your aging clients aren’t turning into their parents. You should fear a different reality – they are turning into their children. And while they may not be growing younger, their use of technology absolutely is growing. A great Pew Research study from last year captured this surprising trend.

Pew found that smartphone adoption among seniors had quadrupled in the last five years. Use of the internet, home broadband, smartphones, tablets and social media are growing rapidly. Not surprisingly, adoption is stronger among relatively affluent households. For example, “smartphone ownership among seniors whose annual household income is $75,000 or more increased by 39 percentage points since 2013 – 15 points higher than the growth reported among seniors overall.”

Deloitte’s annual mobile survey sheds even more light on this trend. According to their annual survey, smartphone penetration reached 82 percent overall with ages 18-24 having the highest penetration at a staggering 93 percent with the strongest growth in ownership among those aged 55 and older[2]. Seniors use of social media is also growing. Pew Research found that seniors’ use of social media has grown steadily over the last 5-6 years in particular. Today, 37% of seniors reported using social media, with 41% indicating they are Facebook users.
But it’s not just for social interaction and entertainment, increasingly smartphones are becoming an important tool for conducting financial transactions. Seniors now expect “at their fingertips” access to their financial information.

Even if you don’t believe your clients are becoming this advanced – their children already are and these children are future guardians of the assets. Over the next few decades, approximately 30 trillion dollars will pass into the hands of the millennial generation who have very high expectations for service oriented technology.  Financial firms who fail to meet the digital expectations of their current clients certainly will not be able to meet the needs of this new generation and could be left behind.

Does your firm need to get on the road to digital?  Scivantage can help you do it faster than you think. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

[1] NY Post, 11/8/17

[2] Deloitte