The Arrogance of Scolding Millennials to Fit Them into Our Business Model

I was drifting through the CNBC news offerings this morning and came across a reference to money mistakes millennials make and thought to myself, great alliteration but insufferably arrogant.

Let’s face it – my industry and the advice channel is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant. To open a typical stock and bond account today means having relatively huge amounts of money which only serves to put up barriers that the average starting investor can’t overcome. If fintech and disruptive business models are going to redefine our relationships with our clients, closing our doors to the most tech savvy generation that has ever existed is going to morph that experience into an accelerating destructive business model.

I’ll be honest. I walk down Queen Street West in Toronto and look at the new businesses opening up and can reasonably predict whether it is going to be a success or a failure in the short term by applying the Amazon test – if I can order it online I probably won’t be gracing your store. Discovering a way to order my Costco online made my day – no more having to arrange for a Zipcar and trekking out to what is for me an increasingly irrelevant experience in the suburbs. In fact, no more schlepping Kirkland brand toilet tissues up to our 11th floor condo. I hear a knock on the door and, voila, all the hassles and bother disappear.

Not too long ago Linda and I bought a cup of coffee on our way to Trinity-Bellwoods Park and for the price of a Starbucks I got none of the over-the-top experience I get every time I walk into the one down the street. I’m willing to pay a premium for the experience of genuine warmth and gratitude.

In this particular case, we practiced what we are increasingly finding ourselves doing – one chance and if the verdict is “fail” we’ll move on to our next experience never again gracing the doors of your establishment. You can’t order a mani and pedi online but like the coffee, it is about the experience. If you’re buying a publicly traded company I think the test going forward for survivability is the basic service model and the consistency of the delivery not the product model.

So what is my point about the arrogance?

I once remarked to Linda after a particularly complicated product presentation from a supplier that what I was seeing taking place were solutions in search of problems. Competition in 2005 involved an already homogeneous product market place and all that the manufacturers were doing was adding fins to what was already old technology – think 1957 Ford Fairlane. Part of that arrogance in lacking responsive differentiation in business is the practice of so many of my peers to scold rather than learn and adapt.

Who is to say that the next generation haven’t figured out a better way. I am an uber Uber fan. Airbnb revolutionizes how and where I stay. And if I use booking.com to arrange for a hotel room, don’t give me the gears at the front desk or give me a crap room. I won’t under any circumstances stay at your hotel again no matter how cheap the price.

What I read was a clumsy, patronizing and patrician opinion of an old man preaching fire and brimstone, scolding the young ones to fall in line and heed his warning. Okay, so I exaggerate – but for all of us the first principal should be to learn what we can that we may adapt to an ever-changing present. Do that and the future will take care of itself.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager, for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iAS