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Breakfast Club Gen X

How Financial Advisors Can Connect with Gen X

Be real, be an educator, leave your ego at the door, avoid being overly sales-focused and be patient.

Generation X is a crucial customer base for financial advisors and their firms’ future growth. I have written several articles about how the Generation X demographic is a major opportunity for financial advisors, and what marketing strategies can work to reach them. For context, there are currently over 43 million members of Gen X over the age of 50 and every day that number grows. Within the next few years that will make up much of the target demographic for financial advisors. For each year, month and day, you neglect this audience, your competitors are establishing market share with this demographic to secure the future of their advisor. So, now is the time to connect with this generation to start working with them to help them prepare for retirement and beyond.

If you’re not convinced, take it from a fellow advisor. Mark Kenney’s article for Kiplinger titled, Gen X Should Prepare Now for the Great Wealth Transfer touches on a trend he’s seeing where Gen X is looking for financial guidance for retirement, but isn’t finding the tailored advice they need.

The question for financial advisors is about how financial advisors can connect and communicate with this demographic in a different way than they did with baby boomers. Advisors should be keen on figuring out how to let Gen X know that their firm has what they need to guide them through retirement. This question can only be answered with a solid understanding of their unique preferences, values and communication styles. So, let’s discuss some of the main characteristics of Gen X that can help advisors connect better with this crucial demographic.

Gen X Is Different from Baby Boomers

The boomer generation, on average, responds best to a value deal and a solid sales pitch. For them, if you can boil down the essential information, no matter what you trimmed off, they’ll often feel confident making a buying decision. This is true for many people, not just in the baby boomer generation. But the data shows this is marginally truer for this demographic than others. In some ways, boomers respond best to personality and confidence. Those are valuable traits that can say a lot about someone you’re working with. But for Gen X, the emphasis is on something else. Gen X tends to respond better to being educated over being sold too. They would rather watch videos on a subject that explains the ins and outs of how things work. Not only do they respond to the substance of this communication style, it also allows them to discern if the person they’re looking to make a purchasing decision with is genuine and intelligent. When sold to in a sales pitch, or when making general statements about a product, they tend to turn away.

Because of this, Gen X responds best when they can engage with the advisor and the subject matter more personally. With Gen X, it’s imperative to take a personalized approach where possible and communicate to their specific financial needs. So, think about where they are in their lives. Many of them are dealing with two major financial challenges: aging parents and raising their own families. These two conditions can put a strain on their retirement plans and can be the underlying focus of their financial concerns. Addressing their family's financial well-being can be a key selling point. Providing them with proven solutions to help plan for the child’s future needs while at the same time helping them plan for the potential long-term care needs of their aging parents.

It is also important to build trust and be transparent in your approach with them. It is important to communicate your fee structure, investment strategies and potential risks. By doing this you take the crucial steps toward building trust, especially if they are looking for a financial advisor for the first time.

From a digital perspective, how do you best convey this message to Gen X? You can connect with them on digital platforms in several ways. As mentioned above, Gen X wants to be educated and gain insight. So, for example, one way to do that is by creating a series of videos addressing an issue or concept important to them. This shows you are knowledgeable on the subject and is an opportunity to speak genuinely without overly salesy language. If we run with this example, these videos can be repurposed and strategized to increase your online reach—a place Gen X spends a considerable amount of time and where many of them make their purchasing decisions.

What do I mean by, “strategize to increase your online reach?” These videos, for example, can be posted on your YouTube page with their own playlist for the subject on your channel so it’s easily accessible to your audience. Not only that, but you can create shorts from these videos to entice people to go to the YouTube channel and watch the longer form video. These shorts can also be posted on your other social media accounts and can also drive traffic to YouTube. In short, this content can be repurposed and shared in ways that don’t take away from their genuine tone or subject matter expertise.

You can even transform those videos into blogs on many of the key financial issues for Gen X, all while staying in the realm of your brand and a touch away from your sales funnel, not someone else’s. In addition, your social media channels are a place to show the personality of your business and the people who work for you. Instead of infomercials or cable TV spots, these channels allow you to communicate genuinely in a way that Gen X will receive more positively and personally. A firm that can communicate who they are through key insights tends to establish the best connections with Gen X.

So, remember this: For Gen X, you need to be real, be an educator, leave your ego at the door, avoid being overly sales-focused and be patient. It may be a change to how you work with your clients today, but as more of Gen X gets closer to their retirement age, you will need to use these insights to be effective at communicating with this key demographic.

Craig Foster is Lone Beacon’s director of digital media.

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