Understanding the impacts of new payment options on younger generations’ financial engagement

We live in an ever-changing world where the internet-driven landscape is continually transforming and shaping the younger generation’s behaviours, attitudes, and value preferences. In recent years, flexible payment options such as the buy now, pay later (BNPL) fast credit revolution are rapidly changing the way Millennials and Gen Z shop and engage with their finances.

>While these services create a more seamless and convenient experience for consumers, the rise of these platforms only reinforces the younger generation’s more relaxed approach towards debt and money management. What I’ve observed is that there is a lack of comprehension on the impact these services can have on their future financial position.

We, as advisers, should see this as an engagement opportunity with them. Understanding and appreciating why they engage with BNPL services must be an early priority, which will help us understand the relationship between culture and credit behaviours – and shine a light on potential stress points.

A recent research study from Roy Morgan found 1.95 million Australians used a BNPL payment method from January-September 2019, up from 1.38 million in the previous 12 months. Another report by ASIC found that as at April 2018, Australian customers collectively owe $903 million in debts through BNPL platforms like Afterpay. The same report found that 60 per cent of BNPL users were aged between 18-34.

This is why building financial literacy with the younger generation has become more important than ever. Where there is financial apathy, financial advisers have the tools to transform this into sustainable engagement. To do that, we seek to uncover why their specific state of apathy has occurred and how they feel best motivated to change this. This process will facilitate in demonstrating how bespoke financial planning can help them capture their goals and protect themselves from unforeseen events that could derail them from their financial dreams.

My interactions with the younger generation in recent years tells me that there is still a distrust of large institutions among that demographic, which is likely further fuelling their use of digital platforms such as BNPL.

But there is also a positive aspect to the increasing adoption of these platforms. Users can see their balance on the app, track their spending and repayments and understand the effect interest is having on their debt, in a way that can help them better understand and engage with the effect of their financial decision making.

As an advice industry, we can do more to ensure we are understanding the specific needs of our clients – what drives them, what motivates them and the challenges they are facing – and this is particularly important when talking to a younger demographic of client, just beginning to set up their financial future.

The gift of financial empowerment is priceless. Creating meaningful advice based on the uniqueness of the person in front of you, will help them be excited by the opportunities that exist before them.

Opportunities that they will continue to conquer well into the future, through the power of bespoke financial advice.

Platforms like the TAL and Association of Financial Advisers’ (AFA) Female Excellence in Advice Award recognise that improving financial literacy will help build the profile, confidence and capability of our clients.

The collective impact of strong financial advice and tailored planning can significantly impact the way Millennials and Gen Z view their long-term financial goals. I have found that taking the time to understand the specific needs, perspectives and behaviours of that generation in order to tailor your advice accordingly is central to generating genuine engagement.

Dawn Thomas, senior financial adviser, Wealthwise & 2019 AFA Female Excellence in Advice winner

Understanding the impacts of new payment options on younger generations’ financial engagement
Dawn Thomas
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