There are many ways to distinguish a generational shift in America, but one that points clearly to the age differences between the Generation X crowd and the Millennials is their use of cable television.
When Millennials moved out of their parents’ homes, they learned of the high cost of cable TV for homeowners, and when streaming services became all the rage, they were quick to cut the cord. In November of 2019, the predicted demise of cable TV is prevalent.
But cable programming remains a very popular source of information for wealthy investors, especially Generation X investors, for whom cable access was a hot commodity in their younger years and who have not yet weened themselves off cable programming for information on investment opportunities.
According to Spectrem’s new whitepaper Gen X Investors: The Pressure Is On, 38 percent of Generation X investors acquire information on personal and professional investing options from national television programs such as CNBC, Fox Business or Bloomberg. Among Gen X investors, that access is the most popular media location to find information they need to make investment decisions.
Generation X investors are generally understood to be those who were born between 1965 and 1980, following Baby Boomers, for whom cable TV was a new option, and Millennials, for whom cable TV is an outmoded source of information.
Advisors should notice where Gen X investors gather their investing information. According to the whitepaper, Gen X investors are the least likely to have a financial advisor (even less than Millennials) and have the lowest percentage of total assets assigned to investable assets. Their investment decisions are perhaps more important than those of other generations simply because there are fewer investable assets to invest. Advisors can compare themselves against cable TV financial programming to indicate why their services could be more helpful than watching a CNBC broadcast.
While Gen X investors are not Millennials, they did gain a hold in their investing at a time when online services became available. Thirty-one percent of Gen X investors get key investing information from online brokerage research portals like TD Ameritrade and E-Trade. Such online research lends itself to moving over to online advisor services, perhaps another reason Gen X investors are currently hard to attract as potential clients.
The third-most popular response for influential media sources for Gen X investors was newspapers aimed at financial topics, such as the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times. Twenty-seven percent of investors read those publications, whether in print or online. Those newspapers likely produce more in-depth coverage of current financial events than a cable TV program, suggesting that a portion of the Gen X investor segment is well-informed on current economic trends and events.
Now here is the bad news: fewer than 10 percent of Gen X investors get key information from articles offered by their financial advisor or provider. That does not mean advisor should stop offering informational material on their website: both retired investors and Baby Boomers are much more likely to search for information on an advisor’s website than Gen Xers or Millennials.
But it does mean that advisors need to find another way to reach out to Gen Xers, who will someday no longer be paying for college education and will instead by looking to invest a larger percentage of their total assets with an eye toward retirement or eventual wealth transfer.
©2019 Spectrem Group
Keywords: investors, advisors, Spectrem, communication, cable, social media