Millennial clients are in the rising generation in families with multigenerational wealth, and the well-known industry worry, shown in study after study, is that a lot of millennial clients leave their family’s advisors.
However, a new report from Family Office Exchange (FOX) shows that might not be the case.
“The fear that the vast majority of millennial family clients will abandon their family’s advisors as soon as they have the chance is real and palpable,” the FOX report states. “Yet, we heard loud and clear from the millennial family clients who participated in the FOX Family Client of the Future research that this is not their intent.”
The Fox Family Client of the Future research comprised interviews with 30 millennial family clients — millennials in families with multigenerational wealth who use advisors — and 13 industry experts in addition to discussions with members of the FOX Thought Leaders Council and the FOX MFO Council to help family leaders, family office executives and wealth advisors better engage with and interact with millennial family clients.
Most of Rana Salti’s family member clients are millennials.
“What millennials want from their advisors is not unlike what other clients want — sound advice and expertise on matters such as investments and taxes,” states Salti, a family office executive, in the report. “What makes millennials unique is they want the same advice and expertise presented in a graphic and easy-to-understand manner,” she says, adding, “They need us to clear the fog.”
The paper makes several recommendations to help advisors better understand and serve their millennial family clients. Here are a few of them:
1. Connect on a personal level.
“Millennials must feel like their advisors know and understand them in order to believe that they have their best interests at heart,” the report states. “They must relate to their advisors on a personal level before they will trust them in an advisory capacity.”
To get to this level, FOX encourages advisors to openly communicate their own personal interests, as well as to be inquisitive about their clients’ interests.
Another way to help build relationships among millennial clients is by developing multigenerational teams.
“Millennial family clients say they do not see age as a barrier to relationship building,” the report states. “However, they do worry that their advisors are going to retire someday, so a multigenerational approach to serving them makes sense.”
2. Serve as a coach or mentor
Most millennials were brought up on team sports, while collaboration was an important part of their education.
“As a result, not only are millennials comfortable with the concepts of mentoring and coaching, they value these types of relationships and continue to seek them out,” the report states.
This is why FOX suggests offering coaching and mentoring opportunities to clients and staffers, providing staff training on coaching and mentoring, and establishing mentoring relationships for the team and use these relationships as models.
3. Offer insights and expertise millennials can’t find anywhere else
It’s well known that, as the report states, “millennial clients are adept at getting basic data and information on their own.” So FOX suggests that advisors should know what other sources of information their millennial clients rely upon.
“[Millennials] expect their advisors to provide insights they can’t find anywhere else, and they want perspective on what they’re seeing elsewhere,” the report states. “They want to know more than the ‘what.’ They want to know the ‘how’ and ‘why.’”
4. Help them make sense of things
“Millennials are more worldly than wise – and they know it,” the report states.
Through its interviews done for the report, FOX found that “many millennial family clients who are confident and already accomplished in their own right confess that they are often intimidated by their advisors.”
To help them make sense of things, FOX suggests advisors should provide summary views, use more visuals, identify self-study opportunities and continually check for understanding.
“If they haven’t already learned, they’re anxious and they feel embarrassed,” says Joline Godfrey, founder of Independent Means, in the report. “Remember to show them compassion and respect because, while they may not be prepared in one dimension, they are prepared in many other dimensions.”
One of FOX’s millennial interviewees told them, “It’s hard to absorb four hours of info from an advisor. It needs to be bite sized and spread out over time. You can’t expect people to understand overnight.”
5. Establish protocols for addressing individual communication preferences
The report has a couple of suggestions for communicating with millennial clients, such as providing multiple channels for clients to use to get in touch with them. FOX also suggests having younger staff members train their “less tech-savvy colleagues” on trends in communications and technology.
“Another notable fact that became apparent in interviews with millennial family clients is that the younger the client, the more likely they are to request text alerts when there is something important for them to act on or review,” the report states.
However, regulatory restrictions make it impossible for some advisors to text, which most younger millennials are likely unaware of. This is why FOX says it’s important for advisors to educate their millennial clients on what they can or cannot do and why.
“Those who can and do want to text their clients must still proceed with caution, taking care to understand the unwritten social rules that govern this communication,” the report states. “First and foremost, advisors should text only if they have already developed a relationship with the client.”
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