Engaging the Next Generation
October 15, 2014 by Byran Mills
ENGAGING THE Next Generation
As a seasoned financial professional who has grown a successful business, you’ve seen consumer marketing trends come and go, and through it all, you’ve helped your clients achieve their financial goals. These goals can range from beginning a retirement plan to funding a child’s education to enjoying a comfortable lifestyle during the retirement years. But how can you maintain your brand relevance as trusted advisor when your clients transfer their wealth to the next generation? In fact, several studies have shown that when your client dies, you have only a mere 20-percent likelihood of retaining those assets under your firm’s administration. All of your commitment, work, attention to detail, and planning for your client will be inherited by your client’s heirs and possibly handed off to be managed by their own current financial advisors. Unfortunately, if you did not build that bridge of communication and financial management continuity with your clients’ heirs, those assets will leave your firm’s management in fewer than six months.
So, the real question is: How can you position your practice as a trusted advisor for both your client and their heirs? How can you ignite your entrepreneurial focus and creativity for the next generation of clients who probably have their own advisor or even those heirs who think they do not need your advice? Where do you begin if you are uncomfortable with technology? What can you do if you do not regularly engage in social media? Have you heard of Instagram or Snapchat?
These questions can become overwhelming, regardless of the numerous articles, blogs, and white papers available from industry thought leaders. You’ll need to implement some traditional and cutting-edge solutions to create new lines of communication and added value for your existing customers. Consider introducing certain tools and services to your existing financial practice such as trusts, next-generation PFMS (personal financial management software), and intelligent social media marketing tools. You need to make your mark and enhance your practice immediately by using your attained wisdom together with a little innovation before all your current and potential next-generation clients ride off into the sunset with your competition — they will not gallop away gracefully, but rather zip away at light speed!
The Ties that Bind
You may only offer certain services as an insurance agent, financial planner, or stockbroker; however, you may also consider aligning your practice with an estate attorney who can assist your clients with their legacy goals. If you want to be the financial quarterback for your clients and their heirs, this suggestion will possibly help them achieve useful tax efficiencies and intergenerational planning, in addition to granting your clients control of their assets beyond the grave. You may want to refer to a previous NAFA Annuity Outlook magazine article I wrote called “Do Your Clients Have a Digital Executor Plan?” I mentioned a few immediate solutions to help find access to a trusted attorney or law firm that specializes in estate preparation. You can find it by going to http://annuityoutlookmagazine.com/2014/03/do-your-clients-have-a-digital-executor-plan/.
The Transition Will Be Televised…On the Web
If you wish to add value to your existing financial practice or create another line of business that will parallel your aging client base by capturing the interest of the ever-elusive Millennial generation, you will have to innovate. These innovations can be accomplished with technologically intelligent financial planning and marketing tools.
Technology Will Become Your Ally
Over the last 18 months, you may have heard about solutions such as Wealthfront, Betterment, SigFig, Personal Capital, and Future Advisor. The media has referred to them as robo-advisors. What are robo-advisors? They are a new breed of startups that directly connect young tech-savvy investors (i.e., the Millennial Generation and the soon-to-be iGen Generation) with a set of analytical tools very similar to those financial professionals use. If you’ve been in financial services since the 1990s or earlier, you may recall the rise and acceptance of the discount brokers; however, this trend is very different. The robo-advisor’s tools are more refined for their audience than those of the discount brokers. And unlike the large wirehouse firms, robo-advisors are interested in the underserved demographic of accounts with investable assets less than $250,000.
What are robo-advisors and how can you compete with their technology-only model? Robo-advisors are also called PFMS — otherwise known as personal financial management solutions. Everything they do is based on proven computer models, sophisticated technology, and attractive mobile delivery systems. This is not just portfolio placement, rebalancing, and trading technology; this technology is meant to replace the human interaction that’s normally part of the planning process. No feelings, no instinct, and no personal touch. This service may work for some clients but not all. The robo-advisor’s target market is approximately age 25, also known as Millennials. Millennials believe they will build their net worth in a few different ways. One way is by working hard and excelling in their business. The other way is by receiving deferred compensation to enhance their net worth for the benefit of their legacy. Unlike their parents or grandparents, they are not depending on their investment portfolio and advisor to fund and grow their assets for retirement. The average accounts are less than $250,000 and unfortunately, most of the larger firms will not accept these accounts unless they are greater than $250,000 due to firm policy, time management, and ultimately, return on investment (ROI).
Some financial professionals, as well as firms, may look at these accounts as time-consuming and unprofitable; however, you need to recalibrate your focus. How can you capture these assets by delivering performance, service, and cost effectiveness side-by-side with your current book of business?
For every so-called robo-advisor like Betterment or discount brokerage firms like Charles Schwab, new and innovative players are born every day. This delicate balance of automation, cost, personal service, and accessibility is just beginning. Tom Kimberly and Juney Ham have created a new company to help complement an advisor’s practice — UpsideAdvisor — and to provide the automation of a robo-advisor together with the personal touch of a holistic financial advisor.
You can learn more about them at www.upsideadvisor.com.
Supercharged Social Media Is Both Useful and Entertaining
Another way to enhance and develop your client experience is through the intelligent use of what Justin Wisz, cofounder of Vestorly, describes as a “Delightful custom content experience.” The content is curated by the advisor and organically delivered through Vestorly and the advisor’s existing website.
Sharing the news, blogs, or original content via social media is not an original idea; however, Vestorly simplifies, refines, and wraps measurable analytics that help everyone from the client to the advisor by enriching the relationship with their smart learning application. Wisz is on a mission to deliver an exciting and compliant world-class, smart-data lead generation system to the financial services community today, not tomorrow. You can learn more about Vestorly at www.vestorly.com.
Understand What Matters to the Different Generations
Most advisors and firms are very uncertain about how to approach the social media space, especially with the diverse demographic range of their clients’ social interests and status. You need to view social media as another form of communication to share potential non financial news and personal interests with your clients. Your client communications traditionally have been through personal meetings, telephone calls, and mail, and the current and most popular social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter may not capture your entire client demographic. Your clients’ generational demographics that use the aforementioned social media sites will range from Generation X (1965–1979) to Baby Boomers (1946–1964) and even Matures (1909–1945). The multimillion-dollar question is what new platforms the Millennials (1980) and iGen (2001–present) are going to adopt as the next hot social communication tools in the near future. Believe it or not, Generation X, Millennials, and iGen are not on Facebook as much as they are on Instagram.
Why does this matter, and what can you as an advisor do to stay current with so many new technologies being introduced almost every minute? Emerging social media platforms only matter if you want to engage your clients on a more personal level beyond face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or email. If you wish to learn more about the four generations, especially the iGen, a term coined by Cam Marston, a recognized leading expert in this field, go to www.generationalinsights.com.
It Is All about Engagement and Service
No matter how automated and commoditized planning tools or portfolio construction applications may become, no service can replace your personal touch. I was told by a school professor that “math does not lie.” Computers and programs are not able to replicate feelings of compassion, concern, urgency, and loyalty for your clients’ wellbeing. Staying current on the next hot technology can seem overwhelming; however, this is where you can leverage companies that are for the benefit of the human advisor and client. Personal relationships paired with competing technology intelligence will deliver an unparalleled client experience for many generations to come