Last week, in Reaching the Middle Market, Part 1: Why You Need a Strategy, David Whiteside talked about how big, and complicated, the U.S. middle market really is.
Here, Whiteside talks about how insurance agents, advisors and other financial services players are dividing the middle market into segments, and how they’re getting the attention of the people in their target segments.
One Team, Two Generations
Some advisors work with multiple generations in the same office, rather than targeting a single demographic. One mother-and-daughter team applies that strategy to the middle market by making use of their age difference.
Mischelle Copeland is first vice president of investments with Wells Fargo Advisors in Fort Worth, Texas. She works with her daughter Nicole Horton, associate vice president and investment officer, also at Wells Fargo Advisors.
Copeland and Horton serve multiple generations of middle-market clients.
“It always has been part of our practice to work with the clients and their children, and their grandchildren,” Copeland says. In some cases, Copeland and her daughter now serve their original clients’ great-grandchildren.
Copeland says members of each generation have different needs and priorities.
Horton caters to the younger clients, especially her fellow millennials. She especially enjoys working with entrepreneurs, new professionals, and goal-oriented families.
“They’re fun to work with,” Horton says, “They’re very ambitious. They’re very high energy. They’re very intelligent. They have things that they want to accomplish.”
Millennials are having an impact on the entire middle market, not just because there are 92 million of them, and not just because they make up a huge part of the middle market, but because other generations are adopting their tech habits.
Baby boomer, Generation X, and even some senior households increasingly are taking the millennials’ Google-oriented, do-it-yourself approach to shopping for financial services.
Millennials (Photo: Thinkstock)
Eric Palmer, chief marketing officer at Brokers Alliance, a life and annuity wholesaler in Fountain Hills, Arizona, says everyone has a smartphone now. Middle-market clients, and prospects, use their phones to check facts and ideas on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. They also seek out information on robo advisor systems and from specialized forums.
Facebook in particular is “heavily dominated by some of the older generations,” Palmer says.
Even though middle-market consumers are making frequent use of social media services, producer advertising on those services is getting diminishing returns. Just as members of previous generations learned to tune out TV commercials, today’s middle-market prospects tend to ignore most electronic advertising.
“All the different postings on social media, all the ads, are just noise,” Horton says. “We can’t penetrate with Facebook. No one is checking their mail. Email boxes are full.”
Advisors say the millennials in the middle market are especially resistant to direct selling.