I read an article recently which reported that over a third (35%) of people born between 1980 and 1995 prioritise saving for a deposit on a home over their retirement1. The next generation of homeowners has not lost its appetite for property ownership but, as we all know, the ability of first time buyers to get their finances in a position to secure a mortgage is difficult. I thought it would be useful to research this generation of people to get a better understanding of what they really think about their future prospects.
By now you may have realised that I’m talking about millennials. What I’ve discovered, from some excellent reports I found, is that this over used word carries an enormous amount of prejudice and misconception. However, if we are to be able to help the next generation on to the housing ladder then, as an industry, we need to be able to understand what motivates this demographic. Only then can we begin to identify the products and services which can support them and deliver what they need.
Millennials are the first modern generation to be worse off than their parents. A report by The Resolution Foundation2 argues the squeeze on disposable income for millennials cannot just be attributed to the recession. Various shifts and changes in the structure and characteristics of employment explains their weaker position.
Millennials are more likely to be working in ‘non-standard’ or ‘insecure’ employment. At 25, one fifth (20%) of Millennials who had reached that age worked part-time compared to just 15% of the previous generation (Generation X). More Millennials work in less well paid industries, such as hospitality, retail and transport and there has been a drop in starting pay and lower levels of job mobility. Factors such as these can help explain the stunted growth of Millennial salaries.
According to a study from KPMG, millennials need to know the reason for doing a task before they do it. As the generation of immediate gains, they prefer to understand the value of doing something upfront before they set off. Why should they invest their time in a task and how does it fit into the bigger picture? This need to understand the reason for doing things can translate into an impatience with unnecessary process.
Millennials are more confident when it comes to challenging the system. They are less afraid to ask questions, make comparisons or question ‘the norm’ of things. If they’re thinking something, they’re most likely to express it.
In the job market, millennials stay within a given role for a maximum of three years. With the degree of networking, peer-to-peer comparison and the ability to find new employment online it’s not surprising to understand how quickly millennials become eager for the next challenge. In addition, there is a stronger desire to have a work-life balance. The previous generation hoped for work-life balance. Millennials simply demand it and it’s expected as a norm on any job specification.
Technology & Globalisation
The internet was born at the same time as millennials and evolved with them. As a result, millennials are considered to be digital experts and the world’s first connected generation. They expect to be able to use digital devices for all their financial services requirements. Not only that, they expect the service to be quick and simple to use. Any flaws in the experience will leave them looking for alternative options.
In addition, millennials accept and embrace globalisation. They travel more frequently than past generations, and aspire to own a home and potentially move and live overseas. Their goal is a flexible lifestyle and they expect to be able to access products which will help them achieve it. They perceive Brexit to have the potential to damage the chances of both, which is why this generation is so angry about the current direction of political travel.
What does this all mean?
It’s wrong to categorise all people born between 1980 and 1995 as having precisely the same set of characteristics. However, the research can give us an indication of behaviour and guide the industry in developing products and services for this generation. I would summarise the four key considerations as follows:
1. Millennials live at home longer. This delays their move to purchasing a house of their own but puts pressure on the family to accommodate young adults at home. Could there be a product which enables you to extend the family home in the short to medium term and helps to save for the equity for a first time purchase?
2. There is going to be more flexible working as millennials regularly shift from one job to another. This means an increase in complex income and contract work.
3. The sales process for a mortgage will need to explain what and why things happen in the application process. Research shows that three out of ten homeowners become stressed by mortgage applications4. Brokers and lenders will be able to gain market share if they can provide an unrivalled experience. Positive customer experience has a high chance of being shared amongst peers, colleagues and friends via social media via social media.
4. Digital services will be increasingly important and the service should be flawless.
Millennials have the same aspirations for property ownership as their parents. If the right propositions are designed around their unique characteristics then lenders and brokers will be well placed to help the next generation of home owners.