The Young Shall Lead

Here’s a dif­fer­ent client ac­qui­si­tion se­quence: Step 1. At­tract Gen­er­a­tion X and Gen­er­a­tion Y clients. Step 2. Reach their baby boomer par­ents.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By Nina O’neal

Step 1. At­tract Gen­er­a­tion X and Gen­er­a­tion Y clients. Step 2. Reach their baby boomer par­ents.

WHILE FI­NAN­CIAL AD­VI­SORS SCRAMBLE TO AT­TRACT mil­len­ni­als, our firm is try­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach: We’re form­ing strong re­la­tion­ships with our youngest clients to ul­ti­mately reach their baby boomer par­ents.

This client ac­qui­si­tion strat­egy has been long in the works and was in­formed by my own ex­pe­ri­ence nav­i­gat­ing my early days in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try.

When I was a trainee in my 20s at a large wire­house, I had to abide by cer­tain house­hold min­i­mums for en­gag­ing new clients. Dur­ing my time there, I was fre­quently frus­trated by the as­set min­i­mum re­quire­ment, as it of­ten ex­cluded younger in­vestors.

In fact, my age-group peers did not al­ways meet that re­quire­ment — but they were still reach­ing out to me for ad­vice and in­vest­ment man­age­ment. Many of these friends were young pro­fes­sion­als who had great fu­ture earn­ings and wealth po­ten­tial.

A NEW MODEL

When I joined my part­ner at our cur­rent firm in 2009, these ex­pe­ri­ences prompted us to cre­ate a busi­ness model that ac­com­mo­dated lower as­sets per house­hold and pro­vided ad­vice and guid­ance for younger clients.

Sev­eral years ago, our firm was re­ferred to a young cou­ple with two small chil­dren who needed fi­nan­cial plan­ning ser­vices, col­lege sav­ings tools, a cou­ple of small rollovers and life in­sur­ance. At this point in their lives, their sav­ings were mostly in the wife’s cor­po­rate re­tire­ment plan.

It was an easy process, and I was de­lighted to pro­vide ad­vice for an in­vestor my age. As a busy young pro­fes­sional with chil­dren my­self, I ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing able to out­source any­thing that is not in my area of ex­per­tise, so that I can fo­cus time on my fam­ily and work. My Gen X and Y peers are no dif­fer­ent. We con­tinue to strive to cre­ate an easy, en­gag­ing client ex­pe­ri­ence and to pro­vide them ad­vice as they make life tran­si­tions.

A few months af­ter we be­gan work­ing with the young cou­ple, I re­ceived an email from the wife. Her par­ents were mov­ing to the area to be closer to their grand­chil­dren, and they were look­ing for a lo­cal ad­vi­sor. She was adamant that her par­ents meet with us and con­sider our firm.

This was an aha mo­ment for me: Gen X and Gen Y have baby boomer par­ents. And many of them are newly re­lo­cated re­tirees in the mar­ket for a new ad­vi­sor. For the last sev­eral years, we’ve con­tin­ued to see the same pat­tern re­peat­ing over and over again. Gen X and Y chil­dren are bring­ing their par­ents, and some­times even their grand­par­ents, to us as clients.

CHIL­DREN FIRST, PAR­ENTS NEXT

In build­ing multi­gen­er­a­tional prac­tices, we as ad­vi­sors are con­stantly be­ing told to go for the next gen­er­a­tion. This mes­sage is true — af­ter all, mil­len­ni­als are ex­pected to in­herit $30 tril­lion of U.S. wealth. But it also over­looks the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate re­la­tion­ships with the older gen­er­a­tions, by gain­ing their chil­dren as clients first.

At­tract­ing Gen X and Gen Y clients will not be ac­com­plished sim­ply by adding a robo op­tion to your web­site: Gen

X and Gen Y are so­phis­ti­cated con­sumers. We also find them to be loyal, trust­ing and grate­ful for good ad­vice and cus­tomer ser­vice.

And don’t be fooled, these gen­er­a­tions do have as­sets and a need for sound fi­nan­cial ad­vice as they make big life tran­si­tions, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.

LIFE CHANGES FOR PAR­ENTS

These clients are also see­ing their par­ents ex­pe­ri­ence ma­jor life changes such as re­tir­ing, re­lo­cat­ing, down­siz­ing and deal­ing with health chal­lenges and long-term care con­cerns, just to name a few.

Gen X and Y clients have an in­flu­en­tial voice with their par­ents, who will soon need help man­ag­ing their fi­nan­cial af­fairs. Ask­ing clients prob­ing ques­tions about their par­ents’ fi­nan­cial plans can cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for a re­fer­ral.

In many cases, the two gen­er­a­tions want to work to­gether with the same firm, but they may find it dif­fi­cult to iden­tify an ad­vi­sor that both par­ties want to work with.

ACHIEV­ING A BAL­ANCE

I’ve come to re­al­ize that achiev­ing this bal­ance is eas­ier than it seems. While mil­len­ni­als may be more tech­nol­o­gysavvy than their par­ents, both gen­er­a­tions are look­ing for the same thing: gen­uine ad­vice from a re­lat­able and trust­wor­thy pro­fes­sional who pays close mind to their fi­nan­cial goals, needs and de­sires.

Mil­len­ni­als aren’t the elu­sive white whale that the fi­nan­cial ad­vice in­dus­try has made them out to be. In fact, they’re just look­ing for the same faceto-face ad­vice that pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions have ap­pre­ci­ated.

Ad­vi­sors are fully ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing that ex­cel­lent ad­vice to Gen X and Y clients, and should har­ness those re­la­tion­ships to go up­stream and reach the older gen­er­a­tion.

Nina O’neal is an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sor and part­ner at Archer In­vest­ment Man­age­ment in Raleigh, North Carolina. She fo­cuses on plan­ning for high-in­come pro­fes­sion­als, women and busi­ness own­ers. Fol­low her on Twit­ter at @noneal510.

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