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A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Engaging Millennials

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In my last article, I discussed why it was important for Financial Advisors to engage millennials in 2016.  But let’s face it, sparking up a conversation about future investments with a typical millennial – who can’t think beyond their student debt – isn’t the easiest thing to do. 

So When It Comes to Their Finances, How Can You Connect with Millennials and Keep Them Engaged?

The answer is simple – Get to Know Them and Think Outside the Box!

Okay, that was the short answer, but the first part is nothing new, right?  As Financial Advisors, part of the job is building and maintaining relationships with your clients/prospects and gaining their trust.  It means you’re thoroughly understanding their behaviors, goals, expectations, fears, and essentially finding your place in their comfort zone.  Once you establish yourself as a valuable and consistent contributor, trust and loyalty follow.  So with this next generation, the concept still remains the same, but the approach has to change.

Thinking Outside the Box – Here are 3 Strategies That Will Help You Make Your Mark on Millennials:

Connect the Dots

Invest some time in college students that are gearing up to graduate.  Although they won’t have the investible assets you’re looking for, it’s a phase in their life when they need help connecting the dots.  Personal finance is typically not discussed in high schools and colleges throughout the US – in fact only 17 states require high school students to take a financial literacy course – so your expertise is most certainly welcomed.  But it’s all about your approach!  Calling your current clients’ children and lecturing them about money management is not going to leave a lasting impression.  How about searching your LinkedIn network to gather some leaders who are beer enthusiasts and hosting a ‘craft beer’ networking event at the local university bar (if you can find alumni, even better).  To market the event, use social media, work with the university, or advertise at the local bar, and you’ll surely get a turnout.  Once the bar is buzzing about beer, do a quick ice breaker to casually slip in introductions, and set up the night by plotting your leaders throughout the room to just…wait for it…TALK.  Personal finance will naturally come up as they candidly chat about their future – student loans, job offers, moving out of college and into a new apt (or back home), travel plans, etc.  Your job here is to listen, get to know them, and see if they’re interested in staying in touch.  Afterwards, continue to cultivate the relationship through relatable, educational content or keep connecting the dots (if John from University X just accepted a job offer at Google, introduce him to Sarah from University Y who will also be working at Google).  Millennials are always up for meeting new people, so your timely and collaborative nature will be much appreciated.

Use Your Assets

Remember that the average millennial is more attracted to a fintech solution than you.  The odds are somewhat against you since the technology is cheaper, more transparent, and reliable.  However, you do have a few advantages that you need to play up.  For one, you’re a human who has emotions, engages in conversations, makes moments, learns from experiences, and most importantly has a network of other humans.  These are your assets.  So use your human characteristics to make the most of the relationships you currently have with your baby boomer clients to get to know their children.  As your clients begin transitioning into retirement, ask to include their sons/daughters in the next few meetings.  This way you can introduce yourself to the millennials and learn more about their short/long-term goals.  Be sure to do some detective work on social media to look for any past or future life-changing events before talking to them.  If you find something (like engagement pictures on Facebook), make it a note to congratulate them and genuinely take interest in the occasion (don’t forget to ask when the big day is so you can surprise the couple with a wedding present – a roboadvisor can’t do this!).  Then, with follow-ups, offer to tap into your network to help them make their event perfect (recommend photographers, caterers, or even connect them to other newlyweds in the area).  These genuine gestures will go a long way when they’re finally ready to think about their assets!

Use your brilliantly nurtured network to connect young entrepreneurs to investors, job seekers to recruiters, and like-minded dreamers to experienced doers…it will add value, authenticity, and trust in your relationships and your brand! 

Don’t Judge

Now that you have successfully proved yourself to be a consistent contributor, it’s time to get a sense of their financial comfort level.  In order to do this, you have to accept millennial habits, adapt to their needs, and most importantly, ‘don’t judge’.  There are 3 kinds of millennial investors – those that prefer the ‘Do-it-yourself’ (DIY) approach, others that favor an advisor-driven model, and lastly the ones that desire the hybrid strategy (both DIY and advisor-driven).  Work with your young investors to understand which method works best for them, and be transparent, not only about your fees, but also about general processes, strategies, and concerns.  The best way to be clear and explain things to millennials is through technology, so when establishing or reviewing financial objectives, let the technology do all the talking.  If they’re able to see how their goals line up against their financial wellness and then effortlessly run ‘what-if’ scenarios to make informed decisions through an interactive experience, it’s quite powerful.  Also, if you’re an advisor that leans on these kinds of collaborative planning portals, you’re not only scoring points with millennials because you’re using fintech-like apps, but you’re also showing them that you’re not prematurely judging their goals.  Once you’re able to have honest conversations with your young clients/prospects, continue to keep engaging them.  Unlike your baby boomer clients who prefer to be contacted on a quarterly basis, Gen Y is a bit more needy…so be sure to make them feel like you’re constantly accessible via email, social media, Skype, text messages, content posts, and most certainly in person (did I mention we’re needy – don’t judge!).

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