Does Financial Service Industry Have A “Millennial” Problem?

by Tanya March 17, 2016

Financial services industry is having a reputation problem, especially among Millennials. Financial service industry has been known to have a rather hierarchical corporate structure, where advancement is defined by seniority and tenure.

Additionally, the use of technology is also tightly controlled and regulated, and information is maintained in silos and shared with selected few.

This kind of working environment holds no appeal for Millennials, who have very different work expectations than preceding generations.

Today, a whole 21% of Millennials don’t want to work in financial services (Millennials at work – Reshaping the workplace in financial services, PwC).

With 60% of senior-level executives heading into retirement over the next several years, financial services organisations need to be doing all they can to attract and retain Millennials.

From lifetime employment to portfolio careers

The financial crisis (2008) has had a significant impact on the loyalty millennials feel towards their employers. Only 10% of millennials currently working in the financial services said that they planned to stay in their current role for the long term, compared to 18% across all sectors. Of those working in financial services, 42% said they’re open to offers and 48% were actively looking for new opportunities (PwC).

It’s clear that most millennials expect to have a portfolio career. They see themselves more as free agents, willing to change jobs frequently to reach their career goals.

The days of spending your entire career with a single employer are long gone. An average Millennial expect to have between 2-6 employers during their career.

I believe that understanding this generation first and foremost as people (not just employees), is vital to make an accurate assessment on their, often seen as entitled, attitudes to work.

Millennials’ use of technology is a particular flashpoint and I have experienced it myself how differently various generations perceive technology. Often, older senior management don’t understand the way Millennials use technology at work. They think that spending time on Facebook during work is a waste of time and simply entertainment.

For Millennials, who have grown up with the Internet, there is no clear line between their offline and online lives. We do the same things on the Internet that we would do offline: catching up with friends, buying stuff, working, researching, dating etc.

Many young people are just as authentic on the Internet as they are offline. When they have a good day, they make sure the world knows. When they have a bad day, they make sure the world knows.

As a marketer and PR, I’m essentially a researcher and Internet is my everything. My main professional support network is on Facebook. We are a network of people who help each other out when needed. Some of these people, I have never met in person, but it doesn’t make them any less my friends.

My employer knows that when I log into Facebook during the work, it’s for work reasons, so there is no friction, but not all work environments are this understanding. This needs to change. Transparent and clear two-way workplace communication is the key.

Trust between peers and managers is is extremely important. Millennials, no matter how junior, want to feel respected. They want their boss to value them as human beings with other interests than making money and not expect unreasonable sacrifices, like giving up personal life by staying at work until late. Every now and then staying at work later than usual, is acceptable, but making it a norm is not.

The chance to gain experience overseas is well-recognised as a temptation for Millennials, when selecting an employer and the survey confirms that the chance to work overseas remains a key priority for this generation. 72% of those working in financial services said they want to work abroad at some stage, and 71% said they believed doing so would help them in their future career (PwC).

To conclude …

The unique characteristics of millennials demand a different strategic approach to recruitment and retention.

Millennials are looking for more in life than “just a job”, or a steady climb on the corporate ladder.  They want to do something that feels worthwhile and they are often motivated by more than money.

A number of studies have documented Millennials’ expectations for their employers, including for work-life balance, career advancement, training and development, meaningful work and career satisfaction.


I have invested lots of time in understanding this generation inside out and I happily share my knowledge and practical advice with organisations who want to appeal to millennials either as consumers or employees. Email me at tanya@luckyattitude.co.uk for workshop or speaking engagement opportunities.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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