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“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange.”
Although these David Bowie lyrics hail from his 1972 hit song “Changes,” the message still reverberates throughout the world today—especially in the financial services industry.
Millennials continue to turn traditional business models and practices on their head.And adapting to meet this demographics’ needs means that many advisory firms must enter “strange” territory as they reinvent the way they cater to Millennial clients and prospects.
Given the multi-trillion dollar wealth transfer from Boomers to Millennials on the horizon, it’s time to start making some changes to appeal to the way the younger generation prefers to do business.
So I’ve outlined three crucial steps to help you not only understand the needs of a Millennial from a Millennial, but to also provide some perspective on the way I see the industry trending.
Be Transparent and Collaborative
In a relatively short amount of time, Millennials have seen more than their fair share of economic uncertainty, including the 2008 financial crisis. And as we seek to crawl out from our crippling student debt and look to become financially stable, we’ve turned to the Internet and other digital tools to help us choose who to trust when investing our money.
We can comparison shop for a pair of shoes on Amazon, see which stock from the Dow Jones is on the rise, and now we can easily find advisors who are open about their fees, services, and technology offerings.
And contrary to popular belief, according to a recent study published by Deloitte, 84 percent of Millennials are seeking financial advice from a trusted source. Especially considering only 24 percent of us can demonstrate basic knowledge of financial concepts.
We may not have the assets that advisors typically look for in a prospect, but we’re eager to start reviewing our financial picture, see how we can save, and get an idea of how we compare financially to our peers.
Advisors who offer a digital portal are attractive to Millennials because they can quickly consolidate all of our financial information into one view, analyze it using real-time performance data, and provide follow-ups online.
Communicating openly, and through multiple channels, with Millennials is crucial to building trust and maintaining them as clients as they enter wealthier life stages.
Embrace a Goal-based Planning Approach
The Internet has given my generation digital, personalized experiences. It’s what we want. We expect the same service when it comes to financial advice.
That may come off sounding needy, but we’re not demanding more advice. We’re just seeking a different type of advice that aligns with our goals.
For example, if my goal is to save in order to buy my first home, I’d prefer regular status updates noting my progress toward accomplishing that specific goal rather than a high-level, generic performance update. And as I continue to accumulate wealth and enter more complex life stages with loftier goals, I’m more likely to stay with the advisor who helped me reach that first goal.
It goes without saying that having a technology solution that automatically monitors performance, updates financial information, and promotes a client-advisor relationship is certainly attractive to a tech-savvy generation of investors.
In fact, according to a 2016 Capgemini study, 68 percent of all high-net-worth investors expect their future wealth management relationship to be digital. So if you haven’t already invested in technology to attract the next generation and grow your business, consider doing so today.
Show That You Can Adapt to Evolving Technology and Trends
Investing in, and embracing technology is only the first step needed to appeal to Millennials’ affinity for a passive management style.
Do you have a mobile-friendly app for Millennials to check their up-to-date financial status?
How about a social media profile to check in on clients who hit important milestones?
These are just a couple of ways advisors can make the financial planning process convenient for Millennial clients. But if you want to take your business to the next level, here are some additional things that will attract Millennial clientele:
- Create and maintain a blog on financial concepts and practice management tips to establish yourself as a thought leader. Regularly post articles to boost your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking to make you easier to find through online searches.
- Incorporate some type of gamification, or videogame-like tasks and achievements, into the financial planning process. For example, if a client connects all their financial accounts to the client website you provided, reward them with a set of points they can later cash in for a gift certificate. This incentivizes them to stay engaged with not only the software you provide to them, but also with you.
- Reimagine your office by making your waiting room and meeting spaces more collaborative and interactive. Ditch the standard office desk for a roundtable or couch to facilitate casual conversations and make clients feel more comfortable talking about their livelihood. And always be open to meeting with clients out of the office, in a coffee shop, for example, to show that you’re accommodating and willing to put in extra effort to meet a client where they feel most relaxed.
The Baby Boomers have already begun transferring their wealth to their Millennial children. Don’t crack “under pressure.” Make sure you’re ready for the next-gen by incorporating the steps I outlined above to refresh the approach you take with younger clients and prospects, and ultimately boost your business.
For a blueprint of how technology and new marketing tactics can attract Millennial clients, download our whitepaper, “From Selling Products to Delivering Financial Advice: The Role of Technology in the Shift to Holistic Financial Planning.”
Written By T.J. Hill
T.J. Hill is a Demand Generation Strategist at eMoney Advisor.