Strategies for Wealth Advisors
Assumption #1: UHNW millennials have very little care for the world they live in.
The Reality: They see wealth as a means to make a positive impact on society.
Assumption #2: UHNW millennials are tech-savvy and therefore more likely to be attracted to robo-advisors.
The Reality: They desire a more personal touch.
Assumption #3: UHNW Millennials will squander their inheritance, so attracting them to my advisory is a waste of time.
The Reality: They are financially conservative and risk-averse. One of the most surprising truths about UHNW millennials is how similar their views on wealth are to those of their grandparents who survived the Great Depression.
Having come of age in the years between two very significant market crashes (the 2000 dot-com bubble and the 2008 financial crisis), they are actually very conservative and leery of risk when it comes to spending. According to an article in Business Insider, millennials “focus on short-term needs and tend to stick with lower-risk investments,” which is a vastly different approach than their baby boomer parents.
There’s a lot of negative talk surrounding UHNW (ultra-high-networth) millennials.
Assumptions about how they view their wealth have deterred many wealth advisors from capitalizing on the opportunity presented by this highly misunderstood generation of inheritors.
It’s easy to dismiss the next generation as immature and over-privileged with an unearned sense of entitlement. But what happens when they grow up and become the bulk of your potential client base? Failure to understand millennials could be detrimental to the future success of your wealth advisory firm.
Addressing a few of the most common stereotypes surrounding this generation can help wealth advisors engage millennials and ensure client retention and growth in the coming decades.
According to the OppenheimerFunds and Campden Wealth study Proving Worth: The Values of Affluent Millennials in North America, millennials are a generation of do-gooders who value philanthropy and impact investing. They don’t simply want to collect a paycheck; they desire to live purpose-driven lives and will make socially responsible, values-based investments toward causes they’re passionate about, such as human rights, environmental conservation, education, and gender equality.
Yes, millennials are one of the most tech-savvy generation in history. They grew up with the Internet, social media, and mobile devices, and they know how to use these tools to their advantage. Because of this, it’s not surprising that many wealth advisors would pitch the robo-advisor model to their clients’ children. However, when it comes to seeking advice on finances and impact investing, the Proving Worth study found that millennials tend to view advisors as the experts, and they desire high-touch service that aligns with their long-term goals—wealth transfer and deal generation being the top two they’d like advisors to focus on.
In addition, millennials value advisors who can help with family conflict resolution and “want to see more of [them], both online, and in-person,” as stated in an OppenheimerFunds article about the study. They also happen to be at a point in their lives where they experience a large number of milestones, all within years of each other. They’re graduating from college, beginning their careers, getting married, buying houses, and having children. This presents wealth advisors with a great opportunity to connect with millennials by offering relevant financial advice regarding these major life events.
Moreover, a summary of the Proving Worth study in ThinkAdvisor states:
“They evinced deep attachment to their families, especially their parents. Eighty-eight percent said preservation of the family’s wealth was important or very important, and 89 percent emphasized growing that wealth. Ninety-four percent considered stewardship of the family’s legacy important.”
A legacy goes beyond financial inheritance to encompass the beliefs, values, memories, and stories that truly make a family unique. It’s these legacies that are likely to make the largest positive impact on future generations of society.
What would happen if 66 percent of your best clients departed?
Over the next 30 years, an extraordinary $30 trillion will be passed down from baby boomers to generation X and then to millennials. According to an InvestmentNews study of 544 advisors, sixty-six percent of children fire their financial advisor after receiving an inheritance.
The data cited here confirms that millennials need an advisor who can help them avoid risk and preserve their family’s legacy. Rather than dismissing them as irresponsible inheritors who will deplete their inheritance by the third generation (a staggering statistic that some advisors may use as an excuse to avoid millennials altogether), advisors should seek to understand their goals and provide assistance to reverse the trends we’re seeing today.
How can advisors engage next-gen heirs, mitigate wealth transfer risk, and improve client retention through successive generations? We believe the answer lies in documenting and archiving the family legacy. That is why FamilyArc provides a digital platform to engage families at a deeper level. When you can provide this service to your clients, you not only enhance your relationship with them, it also ripples out to the next generations—dramatically increasing the odds of the upcoming generation keeping you on as their advisor.
Many people in the wealth advisor community may be missing a great opportunity to connect with the group that has already surpassed Baby Boomers as America’s largest living generation. Don’t be one of them.
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