Ask your parents and grandparents which version of Amazon they prefer. Now ask your children. Did you get puzzled looks as a response? Or are you yourself sitting there with a furrowed brow, squinty eyes and a cocked head? Of course there aren’t different versions of Amazon for each generation. The purpose and outcome of the service is the same, no matter the age of the user.
The only difference in the Amazon experience is if a customer pays for Amazon Prime, allowing them free two-day shipping and other extras.
Amazon doesn’t reject certain customers, and the same should be true for financial planning. For decades, advisors have almost exclusively courted the 40-and-over crowd due to their maturity and more considerable assets. After all, if you’re going to put in all of this work for your percentage, you want that percentage to be worth it, and a percentage of most young people’s savings could never touch the fees advisors get from retirees. But the industry is changing – thanks in large part to technology.
Today’s tech-savvy advisors are employing robos to take on clients with lower assets without losing money on the deal. And believe me, it’s worth considering. Millennials are predicted to become the largest living generation in the US this year, outnumbering boomers for the first time. Millennials currently outnumber all other generations in the American workforce. Then there’s the whole “great wealth transfer” of around $30 trillion that millennials are expected to receive from their baby boomer parents in the coming years.
In other words, millennials aren’t the new kids on the block anymore. They’re not new, they’re definitely not kids and their pockets are only getting deeper. It’s time to move from considering taking on younger clientele to taking on younger clientele. But are millennials even interested in working with advisors?
Yes, they want your help
One in 3 millennials are looking to work with an advisor in the next 12 months. They’re more risk averse and cautious when it comes to investing and saving than previous generations – they were young witnesses to the Great Recession in 2008, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And a whopping 89 percent of millennials either want help from a professional to manage their retirement assets or would prefer to let a professional manage their retirement savings.
Scale your approach
Many of younger clients’ current financial needs are tied to big life moments – getting married, buying a first home or car, having children, paying off student loans, starting a business. Think a 401(k) for a 20- or 30-something. A 529 for a young family. A “what now” for newlyweds.
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With fewer assets, the AUM percentage approach is probably not the best route with younger clients – for you or for them. If you have a robo option, then you can afford to lower your fees considerably. For traditional services, we have seen several advisors develop a flat fee approach for a la carte services with clients who don’t quite hit their typical minimum AUM. For example, you might charge $250 to $300 per month for ongoing financial planning and $500 for a one-time tax planning session.
They’re not your father’s clients
Let’s crush a common millennial misconception. Self-absorbed? Think again. The millennial birth year span (1981-1996) makes the oldest millennial 27 years old during the Great Recession in 2008 – impressionable ages to develop strong feelings toward business and the economy. Millennials want to work with businesses that are moral and responsible members of society. Seventy-five percent of millennials say the environmental and social impact of companies are important to their decision making when it comes to investing. And what millennials want from a financial advisor differs from previous generations. According to a Global X study, 87 percent of millennials say their most important expectation from a financial advisor is protecting investments during a downturn. (Whereas 76 percent of Gen Y respondents said financial education was most important.)
Balance is key
Bringing aboard younger clients will improve your firm’s net flow. Older, more mature clients are the bulk of your business, but they’re also the ones withdrawing money from their portfolios. Younger clients offset this as they’re still firmly entrenched in the accumulation phase. On top of that, this scenario will also improve your firm’s valuation in the long run. Younger clients aren’t withdrawing retirement assets yet and will typically be clients longer than your current older clients.
Think long term
The hope and goal is that your younger clientele will grow into mature, high net worth clientele. Sure, there’s no guarantee they’ll stick around. But if you want your firm to continue well into the future, now is the time to start planting seeds for your future clients. Retirees are your bread and butter now, so why not fill out your client roster with a bunch of future retirees? When it comes to money, people want an advisor they trust. Providing them value early on in life is a great way to earn that trust.
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Amazon Prime customers were all non-Prime customers at some point. Once they recognized they could trust Amazon – and how much value it provided to their lives – they jumped on board. Whatever their motive, they believed Amazon would continue to provide them value beyond doubt. Provide value to younger clients. Make the complex simple for them. Help them make the right moves and prevent them from making the wrong moves. Like Amazon customers, your clients are paying for a value-based experience, and they expect value, at any price level. They’ll continue to pay you if you continue to provide value. Price is only 8 percent of the reason someone will decide to do business with you, client experience is 62 percent. Customers flock to and stay with Amazon for a reason, no matter what price they’re paying. Are you ready to deliver similar value to clients of all ages?