CI First Look: Senior Citizens and Mobile

by on Sep 25, 2013

Last week, we attended the September NYC User Experience Professionals Association (NYCUXPA) event at the Thomson Reuters old-woman-uses-iphoneoffices in lower Manhattan. The presentation was led by Tammy Sachs, CEO of Sachs Insights, and focused on a largely overlooked segment of mobile device users – senior citizens. Tammy and her team conducted comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research on this group – dubbed the “newly mobile senior set” by a 2012 Pew Research Center study – and she was kind enough to share some of the results during an engaging presentation.

Senior Citizens Aren’t Using Financial Services Apps…Yet
While we were impressed by the innovative ways seniors are utilizing mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, we were surprised that these individuals are rarely using mobile devices to manage their finances. The reluctance to use their financial institution’s apps often stems from a fear of committing a user error, rather than a concern with security on the devices.

This bodes well for firms seeking to engage this demographic on smartphones and tablets, as these newly mobile seniors are eager to learn. Multiple participants in Sachs’s study group lamented the absence of an owner’s manual for their devices and apps – while we don’t expect to see any companies rolling out manuals for their apps anytime soon, a robust help center is a tenable solution.

Mobile Devices Popular Among Baby Boomers
In particular, baby boomers are leading the way when it comes to adoption of mobile technology among the newly mobile senior set. As more and more boomers enter retirement, they are frequently turning to mobile devices as a means to enhance the “fourth quarter” of their lives and achieve lifelong dreams. Many retirees are actively using their smartphones and tablets as tools when it comes to health, wellness, traveling and shopping; with a little work from bank and brokerage firms, financial management could be added to this list.

Closing Thoughts
Since a good financial services app can empower individuals to manage their finances and meet their goals, we see an opportunity that financial firms should capitalize on. We think there are ways for firms to improve their mobile offerings in order to engage the boomer generation and seniors as a whole.

We will be releasing additional research on this topic and offering recommendations for financial services firms looking to develop mobile resources for this demographic in early October. Stay tuned!