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October 2015

Root canals over savings accounts?

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Since many of our clients are in the financial services industry, Fred routinely shares interesting banking tidbits with us. He recently shared an article from the St. Louis Business Journal that said, in a 3-year study of 10,000 millennials, 71% would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying.

To our friends in the industry, that might feel like hearing your dentist tell you that you need a root canal. Ouch!

The article also mentioned that more than half of the respondents believe their bank’s offerings are the same as other bank’s, and over 1/3 said they would consider switching banks in the next 90 days. Unfortunately, the article didn’t say what might push these cynical, yet highly sought-after consumers to another bank. Now that would be good information to have.

But maybe it doesn’t matter, because 1/3 of the respondents think they will eventually not need a bank at all. They are more exited about financial services offerings from their tech idols, like Google, Apple and Amazon.

This got me thinking about the whole banking/mortgage debacle and how it wasn’t just millennials that were affected. Sure, they got stuck moving back home after college because they couldn’t find a job. But we all know that everyone else suffered too—perhaps the worst hit being those in or near retirement who lost a large chunk of their funds. At least millennials have their whole lives ahead of them to build up those accounts.

As for dissing the banks in favor of tech companies, it remains to be seen how this will all wash out. It’s true that many banks engaged in unscrupulous business practices, but I believe that consumers could share a little of the blame, too.

The old saying goes “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is”. For the record, this is not me shaking my finger at others. I fell prey to the hard-to-believe offers too. Taking out a home loan with no money down and the naïve belief that my house could only increase in value were two big circumstances that contributed to me eventually losing it (among other things that were out of my control).

In other words, I think it’s okay for millennials to use the benefit of hindsight to make judgments and blame the banks. But does putting all their faith into companies like Google, Apple and Amazon—who, just like banks, are in business to make money—guarantee their future success? I doubt it.

Instead, it might help if everyone practiced a little more self-control in their spending. After all, wouldn’t it be great if the bank debacle taught us, no matter what generation we are from, to learn to be more grateful for the things we already have?