Financial Services Industry Gets Social to Attract Young Money

Gen X bank customers
Gen X bank customers

At least $1 trillion will move from one generation to the next by 2025, marking a whole new era of wealth management. The financial industry has good reason to perk up at that figure: Not only is it a lot of money, but when assets change owners, 90% of the time, so too does the relationship with the adviser. Amy Butte, CEO of TILE Financial, says the industry has been slow to change the way it communicates to young people -- such as grandchildren standing to inherit some money -- and advisers risk losing these wealthy, younger customers.

"[Banks] are still talking about products with old-people speak, and operating like they did 15 years ago," she says. "It used to be when someone turned 45 that was first time the financial services paid attention to you." Today, let's try 16.

Easier to Talk About Sex Than Money

Another problem is the difficulty parents and grandparents have discussing money with those who stand to inherit. It's easier to talk about sex than money, Butte says. " Money is a little taboo," she says. "[Grandparents and parents] are a little embarrassed to talk about partly because they don't understand it, and they don't know where to go to understand it better."

Casey Weade, 25, a certified financial planner and adviser with Howard Bailey Financial, a family-run asset management firm based in Fort Wayne, Ind., says it comes down to the relationship parents have with their children. With family firms like Weade's, which has $150 million under advisement, events like annual picnics and other personal touches help foster the relationships between families and financial advisers. For bigger firms, the solution may be in online relationships.

With that in mind, Butte created TILE Financial (TILE stands for The Investment Learning Environment), which will be offered through partner financial institutions. It uses a Facebook-like social media environment aimed at teens and young adults to engage with their financial identity and help banks build relationships.

Butte drew on her Wall Street connections (she's the former CFO of the New York Stock Exchange) and the teenagers in her life (she's a stepmother to four) to develop TILE. The approach to managing money is less about reading a monthly statement or managing a budget. Instead it takes a holistic approach that combines equal emphases on spending money, growing money and giving it away. Two major financial institutions have signed on to incorporate TILE into their financial services starting this fall, says Butte.

Catherine New is a staff writer with You can reach her here.