With the uncertainty of 2017 lingering into the spring, insurance agents and advisors everywhere continue to take stock.

The way forward may be closer than you think.

Look in the mirror. Then, think about your client base. Notice any similarities?

Many financial professionals find that their clients look a lot like themselves. It’s easier and often more comfortable to work with people who we have more in common with – age, gender, background, etc. But when we consistently build a practice this way, we miss opportunities to vary our business and grow with the changing times. Consider refueling your book of business through inter-generational planning.

Today, the average age of a financial advisor is 50.9.1 The average age of a client seeking the advice of a financial professional is over 60.1 What will happen if you don’t diversify? Inter-generational planning, starting with your current clients’ children, could provide you with just the opportunity you need. Develop new client relationships, serve more people and increase your assets under management.

There have been misconceptions that millennials and younger generations aren’t interested in financial advice. They’d rather “go it alone.” However, study after study has shown that these groups want the advice of a professional if that professional is willing to foster a relationship built on respect for their life goals, communication, trust and education.

Interestingly, 65 percent of millennials in a recent Merrill Lynch study preferred to follow in their parents’ footsteps when it came to investing, and 59 percent of millennials in the same study already used a financial advisor in some capacity.1

Inter-generational planning is not complicated. Here are some quick tips:

  • Suggest family planning meetings – Engage with clients’ children before they retain a financial professional on their own. While the next generation may not have a large nest egg now, through inter-generational wealth transfer, many of them will sooner than you think. Educate your clients’ children on what they’ll inherit one day and what actions they’ll need to take when their parents pass away.
  • Hold millennial seminars – Younger generations understand that they need to save for retirement, but the details of how to get there might be lacking. Consider hosting a seminar for millennials to help them understand the urgency of creating a financial plan today.
  • Focus on young couples – Keep in mind that younger married couples view money very differently than their parents. The majority of financial decisions are made jointly with women having a key role in the decision-making process.2 Position a seminar as an event for couples, and treat both spouses equally. They share in the financial responsibility, child care and household management more than any other generation.

By helping your clients’ children save now, they will remember who helped them get started, and that can create a lifetime of loyalty.

As our existing client base ages, the financial professionals who are willing to explore new opportunities and get outside their comfort zones will have the greatest opportunity for future growth. By building your experience through younger generations, you will be more effective in working with your current clients and strengthen your bonds with them, too.

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1 Millennials and Money, Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Client Group, 2014

2 MetLife Study of Finances and Female Executives, 2010

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25344Z PRT 3-17