Where to Start if You Don’t Have a Retirement Plan Yet
When it comes to retirement and planning, I’ve heard them all:
“I love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
“I’ll never have enough money to retire, so I’ll work until I die.”
“I have no hobbies, so I might as well work.”
“I’d be bored outta my skull if I didn’t work.”
“Ha, why should I plan? Man plans, and God laughs.”
“I have children to raise and aging parents to worry about. Retirement? Ha!”
The statements go on and on, all of which recite the same underlying messages that cover important issues. As you think about your retirement plan, consider the following:
- Very few people actively devote time to consider their life in retirement. Basic questions like the “where,” “when,” “how” and “why” need to be clearly considered.
- You can’t predict the future. Unless you consider what life might hold for you, there’s no way to even quantify how much you might need to sustain your financial needs or desires.
- Retirement may not be a choice. Physical health, mental health, and the type of job and economic considerations play a significant role in your life plan.
- We are controlled by fear. Fear plays a significant role in trying to “pin down” something in the future. The sentiment here is, it’s better to do what you know than to face something for which you are untrained and untested.
- For many, their job is how they define themselves. They are Executives, Bakers, Lawyers, Plumbers, Doctors, Salesmen, Architects—their occupations become who they are. When facing retirement, that identity becomes lost; they’re just, Barbara, Sal, Mark or Felice. Their status becomes reduced, at least in their own minds.
Of course, there’s resistance to approaching the process of mapping out a period of life that could be years or decades away. Your life is immensely complicated and filled beyond capacity in the present. It seems that endless responsibilities and actions need to be taken in just one day: Work, putting dinner on the table, getting enough sleep, and maybe catching up on life’s daily tasks.
Then come the broader, but still essential life responsibilities: Addressing immediate needs of family, managing the current state of your finances, taking care of your health. And only then come the pure pleasures and rewards: Maybe getting in a vacation here or there, catching up with friends. So thinking about, what may seem like, an arbitrary time in the future, feels as untouchable as some distant solar system.
The fact is, it’s never too early to start thinking about it–just like saving for retirement; the earlier the better. When considering your retirement plan, here are some topics to consider and discuss with the stakeholders in your life:
- What are some things you’ve always dreamed of doing or being? Don’t be afraid to be creative; let it go. Write down all those ideas. Is it further education? Working in a bookstore? Writing a book? Teaching a class? Painting? Building furniture? Running a marathon? Be bold!
- Which of your goal activities or endeavors have a financial cost, and which ones are relatively dollar neutral? If your goal is to buy an island or a small nation, you might need to rethink that idea; unless that’s your driving desire. You never know what you’re going to find on eBay! Write a clear list of the expensive, less expensive, and dollar neutral items.
- What variables might derail your plans? Poor health, change in employment, severe economic decline or assumptions that are just too aggressive—the variables can be countless. It’s important, however, to consider as many as occur to you.
- What does your current lifestyle look like today and how might it change when the paycheck ends? This question leads to the idea of having a written and well-conceived financial plan that is built on conservative assumptions, realistic outcomes, and as many potential disruptions as possible.
The fact is, if you are fortunate enough to live long enough to have choices about your life, you want to be sure of the following:
- Whether or not retirement is your choice, it is vital that you’ve discovered what can give your life meaning and reason to get out of bed in the morning.
- Studies have shown that people who are active, engaged and have purpose lead healthier, happier, and longer lives.
- Being forward-thinking provides focus and incentivizes our actions today to make choices that benefit us over the whole of our lives.
We don’t know is what our futures hold. We don’t even know what the stock market is going to do tomorrow. But tomorrow always comes, and the best way to approach it is with an open mind and a willingness to tackle some of the challenges and opportunities that will provide us with the highest level of security and satisfaction.
Capturing the Attention of Millennials: Be Relevant and Digital
I know Gen Y are stereotyped as being transient, digital natives who are impossible to capture, but that is just the world we live in today. Technology has caused a proliferation of advancements and the financial services industry is (or should be) feeling the pressure. We have seen the rise of the robos, fee compression, virtual advisors, and various regulatory changes, all culminating to challenge financial advisors to find ways to cut through the noise to demonstrate their value.
Developing an effective marketing and lead generation process that’s tailored to millennials is vital for two key reasons:
- It’s the only way you’re ever going to capture their attention
- It’s the only way your business can remain profitable serving this demographic
Let’s be honest; there is a bit of an over-hype and obsession with millennials right now (don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously a fan). Nearly every business is starting to ask itself, “How do we capture this next generation?” And they’re spending tons of time and resources devoted to this one demographic. So think about all the different emails, social media and digital advertising you’re competing with, even beyond just the financial services industry. Whatever you put out there will have to be niche to their needs in order to capture their attention – and will have to feel authentic if you want to build enough trust to get them to engage.
As you begin to assess your ability (or desire) to serve younger investors, the question about profitability will inevitably come up. The traditional marketing advisors do today for their HNW investors is just not an effective or profitable way to target millennials. No COIs, business networking, client events, newsletters – that takes up way too much of your time. Instead, you should take a more scalable approach using digital marketing and messaging that actually resonates with your intended target market. Serving millennials should not be a loss leader; that’s exactly why segmenting and tailoring your marketing will be vital with this demographic.
Bringing it back to our friends Marg, Chip and Drew
In order to assess what type of marketing will effectively capture the attention of our three millennial personas, we need to answer these questions:
- What are their aspirations?
- What are their problems?
- When is the best time (in their lives) to capture their attention?
Marg seems to be more reactive and short-sighted, only seeking advice when there’s a triggering event causing her stress. Chip and Drew tend to have relatively similar characteristics, which you’ll notice quite a bit throughout our research. Aside from income, assets and debt levels, Chip and Drew tend to have the same needs and preferences. This means that you can take a relatively similar marketing approach in terms of messaging, but you’ll need a slightly different approach for each party later on, when we get into fees and service models.
Chip and Drew tend to be a little more financially mature than Marg; they look at longer-term goals and aspirations. The only exception would be that, when it comes to how these three define financial success, they all answered, “Having enough savings to retire when I want” as their top choice.
With the goal of tailoring your marketing messaging and approach to effectively engage these different segments, here are our recommended approaches.
Marketing to Marg
Topical blog posts and social media are the way to go. Even though Marg might not be ready for or in need of your professional advice quite yet, you can still find scalable, automated ways to prospect her (with the long-term goal of eventually capturing her once she becomes more like Chip and Drew). The key is to identify those triggers that cause Marg to seek help and find a way to insert yourself into the picture through digital marketing.
Writing a blog with topical posts that address key questions or issues that Marg might Google or research in her time of need is a great starting point. Think of blog titles like: A 5-Step Guide to Building a Budget, What to Do When You Have Credit Card Debt, and How to Improve Your Credit Score. Even though blogging might feel like it takes a lot of initial effort putting together the content, once it’s written, it can be leveraged in so many ways that you can actually realize a return on that investment of your time.
One blog post can be broken down into 10-20 different social media posts, posted on many different social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), and can be used for months after the blog goes live. And, over time, that content will accumulate and improve your website’s visibility in search engines (that’s search engine optimization) to increase visitors and visits from people like Marg.
Marketing to Chip and Drew
Build a targeted marketing campaign focused on life event planning. Retirement is still a very important issue when it comes to emerging wealth prospects like Chip and Drew. Not only do they define financial success as the ability to retire when they want, they also cite retirement planning as the top financial issue they want more help with. However, big life events are the key trigger for Chip and Drew to take action on their finances. And so the key to capturing these millennials is by striking at the peak of their interest – when these life events happen.
But before you can market messaging and content specifically focused on life events like marriage, first-home purchase, first child, and change of career, you have to first address any potential branding issues. If you’re serious about wanting to engage this group, your brand and website cannot be hyper-focused on traditional financial advisor themes like retirement, investing and wealth management. Expand your current brand or create a separate brand geared to this demographic that focuses on financial planning for life events (which can still include retirement as one key component). Then build topical messaging and content that plays to each life event, like “3 Financial Musts After Having Your First Child.”
If you’re fully committed, you could even take it a step further by implementing marketing that specifically targets millennials going through specific life events. For example, you could pay to promote social media posts or ads that only target millennials between the ages of 28-30, the average age most millennials are getting married . Maybe you purchase ads on blogs or other websites like The Knot for newlyweds or The Bump for new parents. You could also identify social influencers who blog or speak about life events and other topics affecting your target market and look for cross-promotional opportunities. The more targeted your marketing and content, the more likely you are to cut through the noise and capture millennial attention.
This brings me to a key point
Marg, Chip and Drew are not niches; they are merely personas representing 3 key segments within the millennial cohort. However, niche marketing is a very powerful tool that should not be overlooked when discussing effective ways to market to Gen Y. The more niche your content and targeted your advertising approach, the more effective your marketing will become in grabbing their attention. Case in point: A 33-year-old dentist is much more likely to click on something titled “Dos and Don’ts of Tackling Debt from Dentistry School” than a generic title like “Dos and Don’ts of Tackling Student Loans.” You want millennials to feel your content to is talking specifically to them – and that you’re a resource who understands the needs and issues of people just like them.
To those advisors who still aren’t really interested in serving millennials, but are using this series as an opportunity to review industry trends – this niche thing is not just for millennials; it can be an effective marketing tactic to use with all generations of all ages. There are so many changes going on right now in financial services that can confusion among investors and muddle your value proposition as a financial advisor. Recent technical innovation has caused a proliferation of many different business models in our industry. You’ve always competed with DIY platforms, but now (whether you like it or not), you’re being compared to robo and virtual advisors who likely spend a lot more on digital marketing and targeting than your traditional advisor. That’s why niche marketing can play a key role in helping you to cut through this noise and grab the attention of potential prospects (no matter what age they might be).
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