Financial guidance is important at every age. But how do you convey that importance to the Millennial generation, those who are just starting their college life or are early in their careers?
There are 80 million Millennials in the U.S. today, born between 1981 and 1997 (currently ages 18–34). Many in this generation were in high school or college during the Great Recession and watched their parents lose their retirement savings and homes during the financial crisis. They began repaying student loans while searching for jobs during a period of high unemployment.
These challenges have molded the Millennial generation into one that believes in hard work, but also that saving and living frugally are the methods to achieve success.1 Millennials are upbeat about their financial future: 32 percent said they earn enough now to lead the life they want, while 53 percent are optimistic that while today their income is low, they will earn enough in the future.2
By the Numbers
Millennials are savers: 70 percent are currently saving for retirement, with $32,000 being the median amount saved, and they began at the early age of 22 (versus age 27 for Gen X and age 35 for Baby Boomers). Millennials admit that saving for retirement can be difficult — the “fear of missing out” is a real concern in their social media-dominated world, where they are exposed to the extravagant ways of friends and acquaintances and their worldly vacations and high-end purchases.
Millennials are skeptics and also conservative investors. Just 25% in a FINRA survey said they are willing to take investment risk when saving for retirement or other long-term goals. Millennials don’t expect large returns out of the stock market and they want their portfolio to be liquid and prefer savings over investments.3 But they are also active participants in their finances thanks to the Internet. Fifty-six percent check their investments regularly — at least 7 hours a month — compared with Boomers who dedicate just 2 hours to the task.4
Build Your Millennial Business
How can you harness Millennials’ enthusiasm about their finances into an advisory role? Millennials take a lot of financial advice from family and trusted friends5, so a natural starting point should be to ask your current clients for an introduction to their adult children.
Hold a seminar or client appreciation event, with a focus on attracting this younger audience (say an event at a hip local brewery over one at the neighborhood country club). If conducting a seminar, choose a topic of interest that will bridge the generations so that both parent and child will attend (consider the importance of financial planning, short- and long-term savings, college savings, tax strategies, protection strategies or retirement). Six in 10 Millennials surveyed by TIAA-CREF said they are interested in engaging with an advisor online, attending live seminars or webinars.6 Older Millennials may have concerns about their parents’ preparedness for life after work: retirement checkup, estate planning, health and long-term care.
Engage The Generation This generation is tech-savvy; they grew up with gaming systems, computers, cell phones and social media. You need to show that you are just as connected as they are! Be online — make sure you have a website promoting your practice and offer educational material like videos, articles and interactive calculators. Use search engine marketing to bolster your rankings in search results.
Understand Their “Needs”
• Be flexible with their needs and develop different strategies for those who want to DIY their investments, those who want advisor-guided support or those who want a hybrid of services.
• Don’t come across as “salesy.” Be relatable. Millennials are skeptical. Allow them to bring their voice to the table and be sure to have data to back up your recommendations.
• Communicate with Millennials via mediums they use – email, via your website, even text message. Provide resources and materials so they can research, review and interact with you on their terms.
• Tailor your advice to subjects that matter most to Millennials: Managing student loans, saving for a home purchase or their young children’s college education, personal finance, retirement planning.
Just one in 10 Millennials surveyed said they have a plan for achieving their retirement goals.7 This is the time to bring your services to this demographic. If you can establish a good reputation with just a few Millennials, they’ll certainly tell their friends, and will help grow your business.
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Sources: 1) UBS, 2014 2) Pew Research Center, March 5, 2014 3) Advicent Solutions, February 2015 4) BlackRock, October 2014 5) MarketWatch, October 11, 2104 6) TIAA-CREF, December 12, 2013 7) TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, July 2014