Take one look at the year’s headlines and it seems as though millennials and baby boomers are constantly at war. Is there any hope of bridging the gap? How can you, as a financial professional, reach a millennial audience? Should millennials even be worried about retirement planning?
The fact is, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996, according to most sources) are plagued by financial challenges just as much as boomers and retirees are – they’re just different challenges. Many older millennials (and members of Gen X) began their careers in the midst of the Great Recession. They and younger millennials are facing historic levels of student loan debt in an economy that has failed to keep up. Baby boomers and seniors, on the other hand, face the reality of an actively shrinking Social Security fund and rising health care costs.
Most of the millennial population sees financial advisory services as a luxury reserved for the wealthy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By connecting with the children and grandchildren of your clients, you can help make a difference in the lives of millennials in your network.
How to Connect with Millennial Clients
The first step to connecting with younger clients is understanding the unique financial challenges they face. If you’ve been primarily focused on baby boomers and seniors, it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the issues millennials face in their finances. Consider also what they are interested in: Millennials are characterized by a love of travel, unique experiences, and activism. And contrary to popular opinion, millennials are a generation of savers – for better or for worse. They have to be, what with the average student loan debt totaling over $37,000.
Lots of millennials feel that a comfortable retirement is out of their reach. They may think they don’t need to start saving this early on, or they may not feel it’s financially possible. They are generally aware that the retirement landscape will change dramatically between now and when it’s time for them to leave the workforce, but many millennials still make an effort to save mindfully.
If you’re primarily focused on connecting with the children and grandchildren of your current clients, rather than finding an entirely new audience of millennial prospects, then your job is quite a bit easier. Ask your current clients what their children are interested in and what their top financial concerns are. Invite them to bring the family along for a planning session so you can explain the benefits of planning and saving in a comfortable setting. Give them an opportunity to ask questions about their money and their concerns.
Show them that retirement can be a reality for them by impressing the importance of timely saving. Help them find ways to make retirement contributions even in the midst of bills, debt, and other expenses.
You could also consider holding a family day workshop or open house. This is a casual way for your clients to introduce their children to you, so you can get to know them on an informal level before you bring them in for a consultation.
A workshop could have activities like an introduction to budgeting or an overview of different retirement savings plans. At this point, the youngest millennials are in their early twenties, so don’t over-simplify these concepts.
How to Market to Millennials
If you’d like to aim for new prospects, you must first understand that what works for older generations likely will not work for younger ones. Baby boomers and millennials hold very different values and consume media and advertisements in very different ways.
While both age groups are active online, millennials are more active on social media – particularly networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This means your social media game needs to be strong. Timely responses, attractive graphics, and posts that really give value are important to generating engagement from millennial consumers.
Authenticity is paramount to millennials. If they don’t feel that they can trust you, they’ll gloss right over you and your practice. This means you need to be transparent about your practice’s morals and values. Highlight the ways in which you give back to your community, particularly if you do any fundraising or other charity work.
Many millennials rely on their network or word-of-mouth referrals to find new goods and services. They are also a generation of researchers, so it’s important that you keep your website and blog up to date.
Why Millennials Matter
While millennials in general have a lower net-worth than the baby boomer generation, they will soon become the largest adult generation in the US. This means that businesses will soon be forced to shift focus to millennials, at least in part. By ignoring this generation, you will potentially miss out on big opportunities to grow your book of business.
And that’s not to say there aren’t outliers – millennials have an active part in the Financial Independence, Retire Early, or F.I.R.E., movement. There are plenty of opportunities to work with millennials that don’t require you lowering your target income level or net worth.
By embracing the millennial generation, you can provide a more comprehensive experience to your clients. It will show them that you care about their whole family and the futures of their children and grandchildren, which can strengthen your bond with them for years to come.
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