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Millennials: How to appeal to the retirees of tomorrow

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NASHVILLE — Millennials. How to recruit them? How to retain them? And the big question at the 2016 NAPA Summit: How to retire them?

Because of course the reluctant retirement savers of today are your retirees of tomorrow.

And although much of the news about their apparent indifference to saving for the future could just be put down to generational differences (didn’t our elders shake their heads over us?) — still, you want to bring your A game to them.

But how? Let’s start with what we know about them.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey says these things about millennials ages 18 to 33:

  • They’re low on social trust — that is, they’re not as trusting of strangers or institutions as earlier generations are. The other side of that coin is that friends are very important to them.

  • They’re racially diverse.

  • They have more debt thanks to higher student loans and lower income and wealth thanks to unemployment.

  • They’re educated — more millennials than previous generations are college educated.

  • They’re “digital natives” — that is, people who never had to adapt to major innovations in digital technology such as the rest of us born in pre-Internet or pre-smartphone days.

But on the other hand, a Transamerica Retirement Center report, also in 2014, says this about millennials:

  • Seventy percent of Millennials are already saving for retirement and started saving at the unprecedented young age of 22 (median).

  • Despite the confidence-shaking events of the Great Recession, Millennials’ household retirement savings dramatically increased from $9,000 in 2007 to $32,000 in 2014 (estimated medians).

  • Three out of four (76 percent) say that retirement benefits offered by a prospective employer will be a major factor in their decision on whether to accept a future job offer.

The simplest conclusion many reach is to latch onto technology to meet millennials’ needs.

And certainly it doesn’t hurt to begin the focus on recruiting, retaining, and retiring them by having the best assets going:

  • A fast, efficient, and well-designed website that doesn’t try too hard to be hip but actually works well, answers questions, and doesn’t talk down to them.

  • A mobile solution that lets millennials use their smartphones to do anything and everything you can think of that they would want to do, from applying for a job to checking health insurance benefits to allocating retirement assets.

That said, millennials, like most of us, are very sensitive to being stereotyped or pigeon-holed. For every millennial that you assume is technology-savvy, there will be the ones who would prefer to talk to someone in person about their finances or retirement savings.

Another thing many employers are looking at is tinkering with employee benefits. Getting creative in helping millennials deal with student loan debt is certainly worth looking into for many employers.

Finally, while many of us go home at night to spouses and children or long-time friends, the workplace for many millennials is the substitute for distant family and scattered college friends. How your workplace culture works to foster community and a sense of belonging for millennials, rather than a sense of isolation, can make the difference between retaining them or watching them leave for another employer.

See also:

Confessions of a millennial advisor: How to become an advisor to Gen Y

Here’s why you should be talking to millennials

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