Study Shows: Millennials Are Frustrated With Traditional Private Banking

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Julia Griep

Julia Griep

Public Relations Manager
Cologne, Germany

A global customer journey study on the banking behaviour of persons born between 1981 and 1996 – the so-called millennials – shows that private banks aren’t doing enough to attract this lucrative customer base. The study revealed several key success factors that banks can adopt to secure future success.


Private Banking: Are banks ready for the intergenerational wealth transfer? What does the next generation expect, what do they want, and how can banks foster long-term customer relationships with them? To answer these questions, the global strategy and marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners conducted a study involving high-net-worth millennials worldwide. The findings are alarming: 60 percent of millennials are not happy with their current wealth management services (in Singapore, the figure is 59 percent). This is also reflected in millennials’ lack of loyalty to a single wealth management provider. On average, each millennial has more than three private banking relationships (the average in Singapore is three). “Especially in today’s turbulent market environment, banks need to rethink their offerings to satisfy their future customers,” says Silvio Struebi, Partner and head of banking operations for the APAC region at Simon-Kucher. “The future survival of private banks will depend on whether they’re able to master the art of winning millennials and keep them as customers,” adds Desi Soetanto, Consultant at Simon-Kucher, who spearheaded this study. The study shows that millennials will only give banks one chance to impress them, and thus “private banks need to get ahold of this next generation before it’s too late,” says Soetanto.

Millennials are the future – how can banks be future ready to serve them?

The study finds that a vast improvement in the current private bank offering is required to attract millennials. Otherwise, this group of customers will shift their wealth to alternative solutions. Three out of five participants are not satisfied with traditional wealth managers, and 80 percent are using or considering using fintechs to manage their money. These millennials are planning to allocate 56 percent of their investable assets into fintechs, meaning private banks can expect to lose a substantial customer group. Asia is engaging in its largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history, which means that by 2046, the baby-boomer generation will have passed on 30 trillion US dollars to millennials. Moreover, by 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the total global workforce, which means they will be driving the new generation of wealth creation.

Millennials value quality and brand, not necessarily the cheapest price

“To capture the attention of this high-net-worth generation, private banks have to significantly upgrade their customer experience,” says Struebi. The study reveals that millennials highly value quality and brand. Banks need to learn from brands that millennials love, such as Apple or Netflix, by adopting certain practices that these innovative companies are providing. According to Soetanto, in order to successfully upsell and retain clients’ loyalty, private banks need to add “WOW” factors to the customer experience.

Soetanto has identified a number of extraordinary WOW factors that private banks can offer to hook millennials, including 24/7 access, the option to select their preferred relationship manager, customized recommendations, fee transparency, and comprehensive and exclusive offerings. Across the board, banks are performing poorly in addressing these factors. Surprisingly, price was consistently ranked as the least important factor by millennials when selecting private banking services.

“To win in the race of attracting and retaining customers, private banks need to revamp their customer experience, which includes changing the relationship managers’ sales approach and accelerate the path towards digitalisation to provide customers with tailor-made offerings,” conclude Struebi and Soetanto.


*About the study: Silvio Struebi, Desi Soetanto, Ryan Lim and De Liu from Simon-Kucher & Partners conducted the international study in February 2019. Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire that focused on the banking behavior of the millennial generation. The study involved 645 individuals born between 1981 and 1996 from six countries, which included Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, and the US. Participants had either at least one private banking relationship in the family or at least 500,000 US dollars in investable assets in their personal accounts. The sample was comprised of approximately 100 participants from Singapore.

The study is available on request.

Simon-Kucher & Partners, Strategy & Marketing Consultants:
Simon-Kucher & Partners is a global consulting firm with more than 1,400 professionals in 39 offices worldwide focusing on TopLine Power®. Founded in 1985, the company has more than 30 years of experience providing strategy and marketing consulting and is regarded as the world’s leading pricing advisor.