John Hall, Head of Retail, Owen James Events

Financial AdvisoryRetail Financial ServicesWealth Management and Private Banking

VICE teamed up with OWEN JAMES EVENTS to put together a series of breakfast briefings for Chief Marketing Officers / Directors from across the financial services sector. The objective was to work through the challenges we face winning the hearts and minds of the Millennials and explore whether we can spark some innovative thinking around finding practical, innovative ideas to get Millennials engaged with financial services. This is part 3 of a 3 part article by John Hall, Head of Retail at Owen James Events.

Vice is 15 years old and has created brands which focus on the Millennials - they understand their mindset.


The disconnect is that Millennials expect the world but don't understand what it takes to get there. They overestimate their value to businesses.

• 84% are seeking advice about finance but they’re not sure where to go for it. 8% feel comfortable with finance.

• Millennials have a “sensitive bullshit detector”. As a bank, you may get to eye-level with the consumer by providing them with a “coffee shop” environment. But if the experience doesn’t deliver, this generation will pick up on it really quickly.

• They want products where there is no fat or fluff!

• TransferWise is a good example. They have a compelling offer which provides a clean and magical experience. Once you get people to try it they will never go back to the old ways of doing stuff again.

• You should treat them as an audience and provide a value exchange. It changes your approach so that you are thinking about value in a different way.

• 69% feel they have to work harder for career success than their parents did. This is spurring them on to find more creative ways of circumnavigating the system.

• Another phrase this writer hasn’t heard before: “Life hacking” - refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. They feel that they don’t have to play by the rules to prosper. They like to feel they are deriving a benefit without playing by the rules.

• An example: Sky is not a popular brand with Millennials. There has been a massive drop off in satellite subscriptions. So Sky has created a sub brand - Now TV which allows them to avoid paying a monthly subscription. It has been very successful. Interestingly Sky isn’t hiding its involvement but that doesn’t seem to matter e.g. Now TV powered by Sky. If the deal is good they are happy.

• HSBC and First Direct - if you tell them they are the same owner - do they care? Probably not – they are quite pragmatic. The question is: “is it affecting my life?”

• Corporate Social Responsibility should be “baked into” the company ethos and not an add-on.

• There has been a big drop off in sporting events, concerts and movies. Our Millennials want to do exclusive stuff – they like pop ups and sub clubs. If it becomes big it becomes less interesting.

• Dining out is the main social activity. Another trend is the time spent on hobbies and passions – a massive investment in self. An example is the growth in masterclasses: a link to a masterclass on film directing with Ron Howard.

• How can we create a non-commercial cultural exchange? They want flexibility and to be eye level with the consumer. Even the way people are working and paying for work space is changing. They don’t want to feel they are getting “done over”.

• Financial services should look to answer the question: how can people improve themselves? Can you help them make the right choices in terms of their financial health?

• You need to locate the white space. You need to be relevant, interesting and credible.

• Vice worked with the Bank of America in the US and produced a series called the Business of Life:


• This is the generation who were given a medal just for taking part. Their confidence is skin deep.

Monzo involve the customer. They take the walls off the building! They appear personal, local and approachable. This is a benefit available to start ups as opposed to the established institutions.

• Crypto currency - why it is skyrocketing? It is a way of managing money - completely divorced from human error. Robot more honest! It is all about what and who you are dealing with.

• Millennials overvalue themselves; they back themselves to be smart.

• To change the processes and products at some of these monolithic institutions is huge. Agencies need to be more empathetic towards the JP Morgans of the world.

• For these institutions, there is a tension between the pull of richer older people and those trying to attract younger consumers - it is easier to stick with the older bods.

• To change strategy is a big decision. How does the Chief Executive balance their length of tenure with the amount of time needed to do anything truly innovative?

• On this basis might it not be easier for Barclays just to buy Atom?

• The telcos are also entering the financial services space e.g. Orange are buying a bank in France.

• Relationship building - do you create sub brands for different life stages and mindsets? That would be quite expensive and deliver a slow return on investment. Especially when our Millennials might just swap for a better deal.

• Nutmeg has successfully attracted Millennials. However the downside was that they then found a house they wanted to buy and took the money out. They are inclined to give up a pension in favour of a house and experience.

• Open banking - will access to client data enable you to offer more personalised services?

• Boohoo collects “likes”; Cambridge Analytics can predict your voting habits through use of psychometric data. Can FS get that sophisticated or will hands be tied through regulation?

• Clients may seek to use a big influencer to achieve scale and credibility. However Vice would encourage the use of “big social:” better to use smaller influencers who have a wider reach. 


Please feel free to contact me for further details on how to connect with Vice or for a list of our Owen James Events – "enabling financial services to do better business’’.

John Hall, Head of Retail, Owen James Events - johnhall@owenjamesgroup.com