Generation D and the Financial Services Challenge

Generation D (Gen D) refers to a group of people who are characterised by their ease with all things digital

A recent conversation with a Generation D about the provider of their current account, apart from the name of the provider, they said they knew nothing about them. They knew nothing about the types of financial products they provide, how they provide them or to whom. They didn’t seem to care about any of this either. I stopped to think about some of the reasons for this.

Generation D (Gen D) refers to a group of people who are not characterised by their age or demographic but their ease with all things digital. This group are consumers of a wide variety of data sources and use a range of analytical techniques to drive their decision making. A tough audience.

The scale of their impact shouldn’t be underestimated either. In the UK in 2015, nearly 600000 people applied to go to University. For many of these, student financing is their very first step into the world of financial services. They bring with them an expectation that the world of financial services is as easy to use as their favourite mobile phone provider or their favourite online retailer.

Here is my view on why financial services organisations want to know more about Generation D:

  • How to align product and service offerings in a much more targeted manner
  • Find the right channels to reach out to their customers and do so without annoying them
  • Get feedback from them on usefulness and applicability of products and services
  • How to create the perception of tailored and bespoke products
  • What information they need to make more complex financial decisions without help

With this in mind, here are my thoughts on how financial services organisations can start to capture and use data much more effectively to support the needs of Generation D.

  1. Pool all the internal data you know about your customers, their habits and preferences, their transactions, their relationships and do this across every part of the internal information supply chain. Access to silos of data is still an issue, as is quality and trust of data.
  2. Become a data broker on behalf of the customer. Financial services are built on a principle of trust, so use that trust to capture a wider set of data – with the customers consent. If we offer a benefit for sharing more of their data with us, we achieve greater benefit.
  3. Look for partnerships with organisations for access to or purchase of enriched or broad data sets. This doesn’t just mean getting data from credit reference agencies but also look for sources such as Open Data initiatives from the public and other sectors. These sources are often packed with up-to-date and accurate demographic data for segmentation.
  4. Ask for data that requires no effort from the customer. Examples include location data generated from a mobile device, inclusion in social media platforms and sharing of personal data such as that generated by fitness trackers. It’s all useful when used properly.

To cope with this, organisations will need a comprehensive data management approach, across the entire organisation. This will start to help address the issue but only with the right tools, techniques and policies in place. Governance of data in this environment becomes critical to not just getting the data right but keeping it right. Data quality processing and mastering of data are vital capabilities to help address these issues too. The good news is that the understanding of how to manage data properly has already been developed and much of the required sets of capabilities are already available. Tried and tested tools, techniques, policies and procedures already exist to reduce the time and effort taken to capture all this data then apply enough analysis to drive value.

The added bonus to this whole scenario is that the same data management approach is just as applicable to the provision of good data for regulatory reporting and compliance, for customer centricity programmes, for digital transformation programmes as well as corporate reporting.

An enterprise-wide data management approach that consistently produces ‘good’ data for use by the business is the gift that keeps on giving.

So how do we get and keep Generation D as a customer? Capturing much more data about them will help, using this sensitively and appropriately will help, communicating in a way they choose will also help. Getting to know their worlds as well as they do is the goal – good data will help achieve that. When that happens, financial services organisations will be very relevant to Generation D.