Today, families are said to be in the midst of one of the largest wealth transfers in history. In the next five to seven years, it is estimated that more than $13 trillion of assets will move from one generation to another. As a result, independent financial advisors must be prepared for these changes to make sure that inherited assets will remain with them. The challenge many financial advisers face is figuring out how to forge and build relationships with the next generation.
It isn’t easy getting your foot in the door with your clients’ children or grandchildren. They have different wants and needs, as well as interests, than their parents and grandparents. But these up-and-coming young adults are the future of financial planning and are the clients you need in order to grow your business.
Thinking your clients’ kids will automatically continue with you is setting yourself up for failure. According to industry statistics, almost 95 percent of all assets that transfer to the next generation end up leaving their parents financial advisor. Reshaping your practice to accommodate and attract this rising generation of investors will no doubt put you ahead of the game. But before you can market to them, it’s important to understand them.
This generation is less loyal and more flexible than their parents, having grown up in a more flexible world. Consequently, they expect more flexibility in return. Being the first generation to have two working parents, they are more likely to have flexible work schedules, family leave options and many more options than their parents did. To attract them, you must also be flexible and be ready to offer a range of options that cater to their particular demands at any time.
This generation is more knowledgeable about technology than previous generations, and they use it. These young adults are used to having everything at their fingertips and getting their information in real-time. You need to be where they are – on the web, mobile and on social media. Engaging in active dialogue through one-on-one meetings, digital media, social media and live events lets them feel heard and appreciated.
Notorious for spending instead of saving, your job is to make financial investment exciting so that they begin to seriously think about their financial future. Engage these potential clients at the product level, company level and experience level to gain their trust. Rewarding them for their loyalty is a must. Doing so, they will most likely stay loyal to you.
However, before you can reward them you have to connect with them. Be sure your clients understand you want to work with their heirs, so engage early. Not having contact with the children creates an opportunity where it’s easy for them to walk away when the portfolio changes hands. Meet them and get to know them. Talk about their life goals, not just financial goals. It’s easier to talk about money when there’s a goal that’s not just about the money. Recognize and consult with them during major milestones in their life – college graduation, buying their first home, marriage.
Another difficulty you may face is an age gap. For older advisors, connecting with the younger generation can be tough, making it difficult for either one to relate to the other. If you face this situation, you may want to consider hiring younger advisors who can forge relationships.
As the next generation continues to make their way in the world, they are going to be seeking out financial advisors and firms that truly understand them and work the way they do. Be sure your firm is one of them.
 Sisk, Michael (2011), How to Keep the Kids. Barron’s June 4th