Millennial investors offer advisors opportunity but also challenges.
In a recent survey of more than 400 financial advisors, Broadridge Financial Solutions found that only 11% were actively targeting millennial investors as their primary audience. “As millennials are now the largest segment of the population, there is a huge unmet need here and a big opportunity for advisors,” says Kevin Darlington, vice president of advisor solutions at Broadridge. The challenge for advisors, though, is that millennials don’t communicate or do business the way earlier generations do. To attract millennial investors, advisors need to change their approach. Here are eight ways financial advisors are connecting with millennial investors.
Offer information in ‘bytes.’
Millennials are digital natives. They’d rather communicate via text or Facebook (ticker: FB) instant messenger than talk on the phone. “Rather than scheduling formal meetings in conference rooms or even restaurants, financial advisors might be better able to reach millennial investors if they check in more often and less formally,” says Bill McManus, director of Strategic Markets at Hartford Funds. “Sending quick-hit articles, blog posts, or factoids via email or text can go a long way with millennial investors.”
Be a sounding board for investing decisions.
As tech-loving as millennials are, studies have shown millennials still want a human to help with investment decisions. A recent survey of affluent investors commissioned by D.A. Davidson showed that over half of affluent millennials use a traditional financial advisor. Only 8% currently used a robo advisor. “Financial advisors who use technology effectively to communicate with millennials in their desired fashion whether through the web, text or other, can become a trusted resource that surpasses the basic functions of any application,” says Andrew Crowell, vice chairman of wealth management at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Los Angeles. “The ‘automatic updates’ that a seasoned and responsive advisor can provide will forge a meaningful long-term relationship of growth for both parties.”
Create content marketing campaigns they’ll care about.
In helping advisors create campaigns to drive leads to their website, Broadridge has found “the magic ingredient is always finding the most relevant topics to engage them,” Darlington says. For millennials, this means content around how to afford a home while paying off student loans, or how to retire early (think: the FIRE movement). “Another important component here is brevity,” Darlington says. Create “content that is in snackable, bite-size chunks” to catch and keep millennials’ attention.
Be their financial GPS.
Was there a world before GPS? If there was, millennials aren’t likely to hark back to it. “One of the most beneficial technologies today is the GPS,” Crowell says. “GPS technology helps us stay on course and get to our destination efficiently. It shouldn’t surprise us then that a written financial plan or ‘financial GPS’ is embraced by millennials.” The Davidson study found that 74% of affluent millennials have a formal, written financial plan. “Understanding that these millennials embrace the planning process, astute financial advisors can forge strong long-term relationships with them through customized written plans that not only track progress, but provide regular review cycle opportunities,” Crowell says. That same study found that over 70% of affluent millennials review their written plans annually.
Plan nontraditional client and prospecting events.
Conventional client events like cocktail parties or educational presentations aren’t likely to appeal to millennial investors, McManus says. If you want to attract and engage millennials, you need to “plan events that are unique and experience-based.” He suggests a cooking class, wine tasting, or fitness-related activity, all of which “are more conducive to building relationships and encouraging interaction and networking.” Not to mention they’d hold great appeal for the health food-eating, soul-cycling yogic crowd of the millennial generation who know red wine is good for the heart, right?
Host virtual events.
Millennial-themed in-person events are all well and good, but advisors can also leverage this tech native generation’s love of the virtual experience to attract millennial investors, Darlington says. “Websites and events ranked as the two most effective marketing investments for advisors in our recent survey,” he says. “While live, in-person events can be a worthwhile investment in time and money, virtual events or webinars can be another effective engagement strategy, especially for millennials who typically feel right at home communicating online.” Virtual events, if done right, can be a great way to showcase your personality and expertise, all without asking your “audience to leave the comfort of their own home.”
Provide the visual sizzle.
Whenever she’s talking to millennials about investing, ShirleyAnn Robertson, a financial advisor with Prudential in Schaumburg, Illinois, knows she has to “provide the visual sizzle.” By this she means a visual aid showing the millennial how much her investments could be worth come retirement. For instance, if she invests $2,000 per year for nine years, by age 65, she could have more than $500,000. “I find if millennials don’t see the results, keeping them committed is a hard task,” she says. But if she started with the potential result, they were far more likely to stay engaged in the conversation. “It’s giving the visual, the dollar value, the end result, the percent rate of return, then letting them see that you have to be willing to take some risk in order to get the end result” and continue to put money in month after month, she says.
Let them be in the driver’s seat.
Robertson also had to change the way she spoke to millennials. “I had to go into the meeting shifting the way I was engaging,” she says. She couldn’t just tell millennials what to do as she did with some of her older clients. “I step back and say, You’re here to meet with me, tell me what’s on your mind,” then “listen to everything they’re saying and make sure I acknowledge that.” Once she shifted her mindset where millennials are concerned, she found she really enjoys working with this age group. As much as she jokes that millennials are “committed to noncommitment,” once they’re committed, “oh my goodness. Then they’re in and they refer you to everybody else.” It’s all about unlocking the right approach to locking them in.
How to connect with millennial investors:
— Offer information in “bytes.”
— Be a sounding board for investing decisions.
— Create content marketing campaigns they’ll care about.
— Be their financial GPS.
— Plan nontraditional client and prospecting events.
— Host virtual events.
— Provide the visual sizzle.
— Let them be in the driver’s seat.
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8 Ways Financial Advisors Connect With Millennial Investors originally appeared on usnews.com