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Have you met your future consumer and workforce yet?

How many organisations do you know that look beyond the confines of their workplaces to understand the behaviour, values and even buying patterns of the future consumer? For any organisation to thrive, isn’t that what they should be doing?

Are banks doing enough?
Another big question here is how do we prepare children for a world where spending money is easier than ever? According to Datamonitor, 48% of children aged 10−13 have played online games where they can earn or spend virtual currency and 21% of the same age group have paid for items online.

Even the 5-9 year olds have bought things online (11%), with 46% taking responsibility for spending their pocket money. I have three kids under seven and not one is buying stuff… yet!

The good news is that a number of banks have made financial literacy for children a priority. NatWest’s award-winning Pocket Money site, for example, offers lesson plans that help schools teach financial literacy. Other examples include virtual accounts, games and competitions that incentivise young consumers to learn how to manage money.

HSBC even has around 200 branches in schools in the UK, staffed by children and supported by the banks’ employees. Sure, there’s an element of marketing here, but children are notoriously hard to please. In a world where anyone can be a bank, maybe it's a Lego bank parents should be watching out for!

Educate, engage and empower
However, brand recognition and establishing relationships with younger generations is not just about educating your future consumer. It’s also connecting with your future workforce.

How would you like to meet your potential CEO-in-20-year’s-time today and ask him or her how they would like to run the business? It’s important to know what your future customer wants but also what future talent thinks of their ideal workplace.

Free from the confines of society and with much richer imaginations than adults, children and young adults have the potential to devise innovative solutions that we may not even be able to think of.

Innovation labs in schools
Banks are also leading the way with innovation labs, incubator and accelerator programs that are designed to help them succeed in the mobile, technology-driven world. These programs see banks partnering with established and start-up technology firms. I would go a step further. I would have innovation labs in schools that help nurture children’s unfettered thinking and imagination and learn from it. It’s a scenario where adults are no longer guides but the guided.

So, what is your organisation doing to reach tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs? Are you helping them broaden their outlooks and make informed choices about their prospects? Are you asking their opinions about your own future? In today’s world where innovation is a byword for success, any organisation that can collaborate with all areas of society, old and young, is the best positioned for success.

This is the fourth blog in the series Imagining Workplace 2020. Read Isabel Naidoo’s earlier posts Imagining Workplace 2020 (and beyond)Being yourself at work and true inclusion and Generation C (Choice): How to work on your own terms with a company that shares your values.

Reference: Datamonitor, Engaging Children with Banking, February 2014



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