Each generation has unique preferences and goals that advisors should respect.

Attract Clients of All Ages

LPL Financial

Millennials, generation X and baby boomers present their own unique preferences and challenges to advisors. These generations do share a few things in common, as each is comfortable with technology and social media while desiring to be treated as an individual. However, there are significant differences that must be taken into account.

Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomers present significant opportunities to advisors who are able to understand and adjust to their unique needs.

How to Attract Clients of Different Ages

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There may have been a time, perhaps during the dawn of financial planning in the 1970’s, when financial advisors could depend on a certain level of commonality in their clientele as every investor seemed to be concerned about sheltering wealth from hyperinflation. Clients from the Traditionalists generation, born from 1922 – 1945, and the baby boomers, born from 1946 – 1964, sought opportunity in the midst of a bear market economy.

The economy and markets are quite different now in the second decade of the 21st century, with three different generations of investors presenting their own unique preferences and challenges to advisors. Representatives of these generations do share a few things in common, as each is comfortable with technology and social media while desiring to be treated as an individual. However, there are significant differences that must be taken into account.

Creating a digital office with a social media presence is not enough, as an advisor must actively engage with his clients and respect generational differences. Millennials, born from 1981 – 2004, seek a personable advisor relationship, while generation X investors, born from 1965 – 1980, are wary and mistrustful, and baby boomers appreciate credentials and content. It’s up to the advisor to acknowledge these traits by building personal relationships with these clients and customizing services to address their unique needs.

Millennials Know What They Want

Eighty-four percent of millennials (born between 1981 – 2004) seek financial advice.1 The predominant millennial generation is tech savvy, wants to be informed, and prefers to conduct their own research. They want to call their own shots, yet their purchasing decisions are highly influenced by word-of-mouth and personal recommendations. Millennials may like the convenience and ease-of-use of online financial platforms and robo-advisors, but they realize they need experienced financial advice from someone who understands their desired lifestyle and goals.

Although they are highly connected to digital, millennials also want a personal relationship with an advisor who would treat them as individuals rather than a client segment. They seek transparency and authenticity from brands and business, and are can easily be turned off if they feel they are being “sold to.” Rejecting commoditized investment advice, millennials prefer a more holistic, goals-based approach. Establishing a robust online presence is advisable for these investors, but increasing an advisor’s accessibility matters even more.

Offering flexible meeting options are important in working with millennials. They will take advantage of your online services and be responsive through social media, but they must be made aware that you can provide in-person opportunities as well. Increase your approachability and inform your clients that you are available through any contact method they choose. In the age of mobile, millennials are enticed by the ability to receive text message alerts or notifications, and potentially text you directly to communicate.

Because many apps and products offer digital platforms, millennials are used to their viewing personalized dashboards and metrics for tracking and reporting. As such, they will likely want real-time access to their financial performance online and even on their mobile phone, so they can continue to stay informed at the touch of the button.

Gain the Trust of Generation X

Personal contact is also vitally important to generation X clients (born 1965 – 1980). Highly skeptical with a tendency to reject anything that’s not authentic, these investors place a premium on trust and will respond better to approaches based on their needs rather than a generic message. Generation X investors have reason for concern — 70% worry that they will not have enough money to retire and 60% are convinced they need to be educated about investing in order to secure their finances.2

The key to servicing generation X clients is to gain their trust through personal contact and establishing a series of regular touchpoints through email, scheduled meetings and informal get togethers. Encourage them to take full advantage of your online resources and training to develop their confidence and employ wealth planning software that can provide a big picture of their investment plan.

If you patiently manage an interactive process that can walk generation X clients through different options and choices, they will feel more secure about their finances. To foster a professional culture that that attracts and reassures them, you must create a specific value proposition for your practice and emphasize it during every customer interaction.

Just Give Baby Boomers the Facts

A fully realized value proposition for your practice will also help with baby boomer clients (born 1946 – 1964) who tend to value established credentials and proficiency. They require such affirmation because only 17% of them consider themselves knowledgeable about investments and look to the experienced financial advisor to supply that knowledge.3

Baby boomers want all the facts they can get. Not only are they not adequately prepared for retirement, most anticipate that they will need to continue working past age 65.4 Characteristically, baby boomers place a higher percentage of their net worth in stocks, but it is anticipated that they will soon become a net seller of equities.5

To adequately address the special needs of baby boomers, an advisor should be actively engaged with these clients on multiple levels. They are active on social media and probably would be receptive to informal posts rather than those with a heavy business emphasis.

Baby boomers highly respect professionalism, and you can remind them of your expertise through consistent online interaction and using email to keep them updated on financial news and economic research.
All three of these client generations will require diligent and enthusiastic interaction from a conscientious advisor. Creating a professional and responsive practice that stresses an advisor’s value proposition supports this collaboration, which serves to strengthen the client relationships that are the very essence of an advisor’s business.

1 “Millennials and Wealth Management: Trends & Challenges of New Clientele.” Deloitte, 2016.

“Is the Financial Services Industry Ignoring Gen X?” Mintel, 2016. http://www.mintel.com/blog/finance-market-news/is-the-financial-services-industry-ignoring-gen-x

3 “Millennials More Bullish on Market & Confident of Investment Knowledge Than Boomers. Securian, 2016.

4 “9 Baby Boomer Statistics That Will Blow You Away”. The Motley Fool, 2017. https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/07/29/9-baby-boomer-statistics-that-will-blow-you-away.aspx

5 “Aging Baby Boomers, Rising Millennials Will Shake Up the Investment Landscape.”
The Street, 2016. https://www.thestreet.com/story/13684738/1/aging-baby-boomers-rising-millennials-will-shake-up-the-investment-landscape.html