Forget millennials, fintechs have eyes for Gen Z

InterGen Data was recently mentioned in InvestmentNews. A copy of the original article "Forget millennials, fintechs have eyes for Gen Z" by Ryan W. Neal can be found at

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The next big thing is moving beyond client portals and onto voice search.

Want to feel old?

The oldest members of Gen Z, the name marketers cooked up for a consumer demographic younger than millennials, have graduated college, are entering the workforce and are ready to invest.

Or they would be if they weren't buried in student loan debt and only able to find work in a "gig economy" that doesn't provide traditional benefits like retirement plans.

At any rate, some technology vendors are already thinking about what this next generation will demand from financial services.

When asked about the next big advances coming for technology integrations, Envestnet Tamarac executive managing director Andina Anderson said her team is looking at how it can provide holistic financial wellness to current generations as well as every generation after them. That means considering how investors of the future will access financial institutions, and building the necessary tools for advisers to engage them.

We want to be able to create actionable tools available to clients in formats that they want to use, and that will be different," Ms. Anderson said on a media call Tuesday hosted by Schwab Advisor Services.

"What we've started to see is very different from who we are servicing today," Ms. Anderson added. "It's all about instantaneous requests and outcomes."

That means developing technology integrations and platforms going beyond logging into a digital portal on a computer or mobile device. For Ms. Anderson, the future is platforms like Alexa, where clients can simply ask about their portfolio from anywhere in their home, car or office and get instant answers.

"It's a level beyond logging into a portal," Ms. Anderson said. "That's what we are working toward."

The Envestnet Yodlee team is already building this functionality and working on bringing it to the Tamarac platform. And they are not the only ones with their eyes on the future. Morgan Stanley partnered with fintech firm Yext to make sure its advisers come up first in voice searches on Siri, Alexa and Google. Last October, artificial intelligence developer InterGen Data showcased some fascinating voice command tech it's building for United Planners.

It's enough to make some advisers' heads spin. Many firms, if not most, are still figuring out things like moving to the cloud, digital advice and mobile apps to connect with millennials, who supposedly will inherit trillions of dollars from their parents any day now. Now you're saying they have to figure out Siri and Alexa too?

Well no, not exactly. Gen Z is just getting started earning and investing, and is even farther away from an inheritance than millennials.

Likewise, fintech firms are still learning about next-gen investors and what they want. As John Mackowiak, chief business development officer at fintech firm Advyzon, says, the focus at vendors today is building integrations that go beyond simple data sharing to tangibly improve both adviser workflows and the end client's user experience.

The real lesson for advisers is that the progression of technology is never ending and always evolving. Just a few years ago, integration was all about making back-office operations seamless. Today it is all about the client experience. Tomorrow, it could be voice or something else entirely.

It's not enough for advisers to rest on their laurels following a big technology investment. They must be evolving as well.

But if you're still figuring out millennials in a few years, it might already be too late for you.