Every conference speaker has been telling us how we’re missing the boat on Millenials. The weird part is most of the stereotypes they’re using actually refer to members of Gen Z—who’re now entering the professional workforce.

I’m carrying the tail end of the Millenial generation, so I bristle more than a bit at all the generalizations. I actually behave much more like an older demo.

My friends make fun of me for being a “grandpa.” To put things into perspective, I’m in my early twenties, but I often eat dinner around 4 p.m., and I go to bed early more frequently than I’d like to admit. Most of my peers classify these habits as “lame,” but unlike them, I think growing older seems pretty great. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to discounts on two of my favorite things: meals and museums.

All kidding aside, I know there’s more to getting older, and it’s not all rosy. In fact, today’s 50-and-older population faces some of the most stressful financial circumstances of any other generation on record (more on that in a bit). Their banking needs are unique in many ways, which creates a ripe opportunity for marketers who can offer products and services that better serve this demographic.

When was the last time you heard a conference speaker talk about marketing tactics for reaching older Americans? Exactly.

Let’s dive right into some facts about the 50+ demographic that can better inform your bank’s marketing strategy.

People over 50 are using (and prefer) online banking.

Maybe you’re under the impression that your older clients don’t “get” online banking. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to a PeopleMetrics study, bank clients aged 55 and older use online banking tools about as much as the 18- to 25-year-old segment. As a matter of fact, the 65-and-older participants preferred online banking at a higher rate than their 18- to 25-year-old counterparts.

What’s surprising about this data is that it isn’t surprising—or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Mabus Agency’s president Josh Mabus recently wrote about how the results of a Bank of America earnings call put the final nail in the coffin for digital banking naysayers. Digital banking tools are the key to success for your bank across all demographics.

It’s important to note that the same PeopleMetrics study indicated that the 55+ respondents hate mobile banking. In fact, among the 55- to 65-year-old demographic, only 4 percent said they preferred it.

The lesson is simple: if you haven’t already done so, integrate an online banking platform into your website, then promote it like crazy. It’s the right move for your bank to engage any audience.

This generation has faced more financial stress than any other.

A 2017 AARP study proclaimed respondents aged 50 or older as part of “the most financially challenged generation in the history of America.” The majority of their financial problems are unlike those of any other group, and a closer look reveals just how underserved the 50-and-over segment actually is.

According to the study, 50 percent of 50+ consumers were unable to save adequately for retirement or were forced to dig into retirement savings due to career setbacks. In fact, just 11 percent of consumers approaching traditional retirement age can count on steady income from a pension, and about 60 percent have not consulted with a financial professional of any kind during the past five years. Sounds pretty stressful, right?

The encouraging aspect of this data is that it’s not a death sentence. There are solutions to this generation’s financial problems, but too often, financial institutions simply overlook their specialized needs. And that’s the nice way of putting it.

AARP didn’t mince words when it said “ignoring the 50+ segment translates to leaving money on the table.”


Your job, as a banker, is to help them find solutions. Perhaps it’s using the equity built in assets like their home. Or helping them understand that 50 is not that old, and there is still time to start bolstering their retirement with an investment account. Every little bit helps, but the problem isn’t the products.

The problem is that too many bankers assume that this generation has their financial future figured out.

Their spending habits really haven’t changed all that much.

This is where things get interesting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of annual expenditures across all categories for Americans aged 55 and older don’t deviate all that much from the average across all demographics. This means the percentage of their annual income they spend on things like housing, transportation, and entertainment isn’t much different from anyone else.

The biggest anomalies are significantly higher healthcare costs and much lower pension and social security expenditures, but those are just two of eight categories. I think these differences line up really well with something that Hunter Young, Mabus Agency president of financial services marketing, wrote:

Generations are Generalizations

You can never put one person or group of people in a box. Today we are talking about older demographics, but people are individuals, and individuals are humans. We are both totally unique and entirely the same.

This thought is further fleshed out in these three points from Hunter’s guide to generational marketing:

  1. Nobody fits into a perfectly defined generational box. His or her needs are personal and unique to many different factors.
  2. Behavioral triggers mean more than demographic data points. Discover what your customers are doing, and your marketing will become much more relevant and valuable as a result.
  3. Despite the trends you may hear about, people of all ages are still buying cars and houses. They’re still trying to save while managing debt. They want to retire.

This generation, like those ahead (and surely those behind), still needs help with their financial futures.

Don’t assume they know what every bank product means and they’ve planned to a “T.”

You’d be amazed at what a few well-placed questions can uncover—and the help your answers can provide.