By Kimberly Sobeck, Sales Development Representative, Unqork
In part one of this article series, we discussed how wealth management firms can use digital experiences and enterprise application development to appeal to a younger demographic—the millennials and Gen Xers. However, in order to secure a larger market share, wealth management firms can’t forget about the customers who occupy the middle ground between millennial heirs with newfound wealth and baby boomers with long-established wealth. In this article, we’re exploring another group that’s rapidly becoming another point of focus for wealth management firms—the mass affluent class.
Who Are the Mass Affluent?
When we think of affluence we’re usually thinking of ultra-rich, high-net-worth individuals—a demographic wealth management firms know inside and out. However, a new category of customer has emerged over the past few decades, full of those who are far wealthier than the average person but not wealthy enough to fall into the traditional affluent category.
Mass affluent individuals, people with an average yearly income of at least $50,722 and income-producing assets in the $250,000 to $1 million range, now make up the largest affluent group in America and control 26% of the nation’s wealth. The high assets this segment has amassed may represent a lifetime of savings from a moderate income rather than an ultra-high household income. Two-thirds of mass affluent individuals are over 55-years old either own their own homes or hold a fixed mortgage. Most are empty nesters or couples without kids. Also, the mass affluent maintain successful careers in finance and business management or make their living as entrepreneurs.
JPMorgan Chase's Guddu Mony on Innovating at the Speed of the Market with Unqork's CaaS platform
Wealth management firms must know that the mass affluent have very different financial attitudes and preferences than the affluent group. According to Nielson’s report “Affluence in America: A Financial View of the Mass Affluent,” mass affluent individuals were raised in middle-class suburban households, thrived in higher education, and enjoyed the prosperity of the bull market in the 90s. Members of this group have earned the money to enjoy the finer things in life, like going to the opera or belonging to a country club, but you likely won’t find them summering on the Amalfi coast. Mass affluent individuals are workaholics, and when they step away from their demanding jobs they prefer to spend their free time staying active and engaging with what their local communities have to offer.
How Digital Changes the Game
In the past, wealth managers have often focused their attention on only the highest net-worth individuals because they could only support a certain number of clients. It just so happens that those high net-worth individuals tend to be baby boomers, the generation that has held on to a substantial share of American wealth since the 90s and continues to do so. In fact, over the past three decades, the baby boomer market share has increased from 20% to nearly 60%.
Unfortunately, many wealth management firms stick to who and what they know to their own detriment. McKinsey’s research predicts that over the next decade, “many traditional firms will fail to integrate ‘downward’ and will remain completely upmarket, with a family office/private bank model serving only the wealthiest clients and continuing to charge premium fees justified by highly bespoke products and services.” By only focusing on the upper echelon—the baby boomers who are already wealthy or their millennials heirs who will become wealthy very soon thanks to the “Great Wealth Transfer”—wealth management firms miss out on a golden opportunity to take over a larger share of the market by winning over the mass affluent customer who occupies the middle of the spectrum.
Digital channels like apps and self-service platforms make it easier to scale with automation and appeal to a wider range of clients, including the mass affluent.
The only way to stay relevant and beat out the disruptors that have begun to enter the market is to go digital. Digital channels like apps and self-service platforms make it easier to scale with automation and appeal to a wider range of clients, including the mass affluent. This group is very tech-savvy for their age—60% of these high-income individuals own a smartphone and 31% own a tablet. Also, the average mass affluent user spends 24 minutes using a financial mobile app from institutions like Chase or Bank of America. Digital channels are clearly in demand among the mass affluent, and wealth management firms that invest in digital transformation can secure a competitive advantage. Still, many firms are hesitant to make the shift.
The Costs of Resisting Change
As we mentioned in part one of this wealth management series, most financial advisory firms today resist change because high initial costs of compliance and technology upgrades often involve a lot of short-term pain. Resisting change is what will cost your firm the most in the long run. Enterprise app development with no-code can help alleviate these pain points and give you the tools you need to target both millennials and mass affluent customers.
Unqork offers powerful products specifically designed for the wealth management sector, from account opening to servicing to sponsor onboarding. The platform’s drag-and-drop components and intuitive visual interfaces make it easy for business team members to create a custom use case that suits their needs. You can build and launch integrated digital experiences in a fraction of time, and if you need to make adjustments based on changing customer expectations, you can do so in just a few clicks. With over $7.5 trillion in aggregate income-producing assets at stake, it pays to diversify and use digital experiences to tap into the mass affluent class.