Wealthy millennials go online for retirement planning

But young investors still do tax, estate and debt planning offline, even as the market shifts fast

By Srividya Kalyanaraman

Apr 27, 2015 @ 1:16 pm EST

Wealthy millennials are planning for retirement and a third of them are using robo-advisers -- online financial advisors -- to do it, according to Global Wealth Monitor, a study of high net worth millennials conducted by New York-based market research firm Phoenix Marketing International.

While using online tools for retirement planning is popular, these investors — defined as having at least $100,000 in investible assets — are less likely to use the same tools for other financial services such as tax management and planning, debt management, or major purchase planning. Only 11% use robo-advisers for life insurance, according to the study.

David Thompson, lead researcher on the study, noted that the use of robo-advisers drops to one-fifth among high net worth investors older than 55.

“It's interesting to see how quickly the market is changing,” he said. “These wealthy millennials are working with wealth managers differently than their parents did. They have a more hands-on approach.”

Mr. Thompson also pointed out that customers who grew up millennials — who by and large grew up accessing reams of data — tend to be more selective in how they work with the advisers and the sort of products they buy from them.

“This is a canary in coal mine situation in the industry with early signs of how it will change,” Mr. Thompson said.

Wealth managers need to be more transparent with their products and services and need to learn to communicate better with young investors. “No more black box approach when it comes to selling products and services,” Mr.Thompson said.

The study was based on a survey of 1,600 investors.

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