What Makes Millennials Different?

Kristen Soltis AndersonTo help understand some key trends about what millennials believe and why it matters for banks, we asked Kristen Soltis Anderson, a pollster and expert in millennial public opinion and behavior, to highlight some top trends.

On skepticism of received wisdom about the good things in life
It’s a generation that’s a little more commitment-phobic than previous generations. The idea of making a commitment to anything that will last more than the next week is an anxiety-inducing proposition for many. A lot of the things millennials were told were the responsible commitments to make—whether that’s to commit to getting married, starting a family and settling down; to commit to going to college and getting a degree; to buy a home; to invest in the stock market—have turned out in the minds of many millennials to be less of a good deal than they were sold. So they’re a little bit skeptical when they’re told “You should do this because it’s the smart, responsible thing to do.”

On valuing family and striving for success
On the other hand, they’re pretty optimistic and creative, and they want to be able to blur the lines between their personal lives and their work lives. The lines between work and play have blurred a lot for millennials, and that’s something for people who work in the financial sector to know. At the margins, you’re seeing a slightly different set of values when millennials ask, “What does fulfillment in life mean to me, and how can I make my career support that?” Family is hugely important. It’s defined a little more flexibly than previous generations, but this is a very pro-family generation. This is a generation that puts a lot of pressure on themselves—you’ve got to thrive at home, you’ve got to thrive at work and you’ve got to put it all together.

Kristen Soltis Anderson is a co-founder of Echelon Insights, a columnist for the Washington Examiner and the author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America.