For the approximate 65 million members of Generation X – those who were born between 1965 and 1982, the demographic generation following the Baby Boomers – retirement is just around the corner. However, as a whole, this group is not adequately financially prepared for their Golden Years.
According to Pew Research Center, Generation Xers are more pessimistic than both Boomers and younger Millennials that they’ll have sufficient money for retirement. A report from Pew Charitable Trust says that Gen Xers will only have sufficient resources to replace about half of their pre-retirement income, compared with late Boomers, who can replace about 60 percent.
This group is also very concerned that they will outlive their money, says Pew Research Center.
According to the Insured Retirement Institute’s 2014 report, The Retirement Readiness of Generation X, only about two-thirds of those in this group have any money saved for retirement. And among Gen Xers who do have retirement savings, 42 percent have less than $50,000 saved. With the oldest Gen Xers in their early 50s, the situation is dire and means that many will have to work more years before they can retire.
Gen Xers are very different from Baby Boomers. Among the characteristics that differentiate Generation X are the group’s market-shyness, their tech savvy and their fierce independence. Before making any major decision, Gen Xers like to gather as much information as they can and then evaluate the facts on their own before coming to a conclusion. This group is generally distrustful of institutions and traditions, and has little confidence in investing, especially after living through the dot-com bust and the recent recession.
However, this group also yearns for financial security. With this in mind, annuities in general – and fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) in particular – can be a great choice for Gen Xers looking to increase their retirement readiness. But agents need to know the best ways to approach this group to make sure their message will be heard.
Financially conservative by nature, members of Generation X are looking for products that offer a measure of financial safety, and they’re ready – if not overdue – for retirement planning guidance.
An article in NAFA Annuity Outlook Magazine suggests advisors and brokers need to understand and relate to Gen Xers differently than they deal with other generations. “Conventional sales approaches used with Baby Boomers won’t work on this crowd, if you can get your message to them in the first place. Those in their 40s may begin to sense the eminency of retirement, but they have time to count the cost and plan as they wish,” according to the article.
Conventional annuities sales methods that work with Baby Boomers aren’t necessarily appropriate for Gen Xers. However, this group offers a wealth of opportunities for advisors who know the right ways to reach them. “Approaches that once worked with older clients may alienate Gen Xers,” says the NAFA article. “The sooner agents understand the younger generation, the sooner they can begin offering them fixed indexed annuities and other safe products to meet their retirement planning needs.”
Here are seven tips for engaging with Generation X clients:
Inspire trust. Trust is essential with this group, and transparency is very important. Connecting at a personal level will allow your clients to see your sincerity and commitment to their financial well-being.
Confer with both spouses. When dealing with married couples, make sure to include both spouses in any discussions and involve both partners in the financial decisions.
Use technology. Generation Xers are technologically savvy, and using multiple communication channels – websites, blogs, email, social media, Skype and Google Chat, for instance – will keep agents relevant. Not only will it be easier to reach these younger clients, but communicating through these channels is more timely and more cost-effective than other methods.
Provide the facts. Just the facts. As a group, Gen Xers are practical and crave information. Trusted agents who can provide unbiased, evidence-based information will be most successful in selling to these clients. It’s less important to this group just how they get the information – whether by a personal conversation or from your Facebook page – but the information must be honest and factual and must convey that they are getting a good value. Avoid the hard sell.
Set multiple goals. Generation X is known for expecting rewards no matter the outcome. At the same time, this generation likes to set goals and reach objectives. It makes sense for agents to set smaller financial goals to offer younger clients continuous positive reinforcement.
Offer trail commissions. Flexibility and creativity in commission options can be helpful in reaching out to younger clients. While upfront commissions are popular with agents, trail commissions can be more attractive when selling FIAs to Gen Xers. And as a side benefit, this arrangement may pay agents more in the long run.
Consider meeting in person. Brooke Worden, senior vice president of financial services at Weber Shandwick, says in a LifeHealthPro article that older Gen Xers tend to prefer in-person meetings with their financial advisors, while the younger members of this group are more comfortable connecting through technology.