Crossing the Generations

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Crossing the Generations

You’ve seen the data repeatedly and chances are you are experiencing it first hand. The financial advisor population is graying.
The average financial advisor today is over 50 years old and less than 12 percent of advisors are under the age of 35, according to a report by Cerulli Associates.

So the question begs, as advisors get older and the emphasis continues to be a focus on working with the millennials and Gen Z, how do you connect with these younger clients and prospects short of seeming like a dinosaur?

Follow our Practice Management center to differentiate yourself with new ideas and build enduring client relationships.

With Age Comes Wisdom

Before you start running to the hills to discover that proverbial fountain of youth to connect with your younger clients and prospects, remember the adage that with age comes wisdom.

Millennials, in particular, value this notion. Your gray hair and experience convey expertise, which just might find them more likely to listen to you than you think.

As a matter of fact, millennials cite experience as the number one quality they value the most in a financial advisor, according to a study conducted by Broadridge and The Center for Generational Kinetics.

However, financial advisors that are successful with younger clients truly succeed with them because they make a concerted effort to meaningfully connect with younger clients and prospects in order to build trust. In other words, relying on your experience alone may not be enough to connect with the younger generations.

Speak Their Language

Does your office speak to younger generations? Does it make them feel welcome? If you haven’t done so already, one way to guarantee you are speaking their language is to consider adding younger advisors and staff members to your team.

Younger clients and prospects may be more drawn to your advisory practice if they are able to engage directly with team members on your staff who are their cohorts and automatically speak their language with ease.

Find Common Ground

In your own efforts to speak the language of your younger clients, it is important to find common-ground topics when you are making small talk in your meetings.

As with most clients, there are topics that can open up both landmines and goldmines.

It is best to avoid conversations that start with “when I was your age.” These conversations can be a turn-off and easily open up a landmine with your younger clients, even if the comment is meant to be innocent.

Due to the age divide between you and your younger clients, pop culture topics may be an area you want to steer clear of as well unless you pride yourself with keeping up on the latest music, movies, and Netflix content.

While pop culture is certainly not an offensive topic to talk about, if you don’t know the references your clients are making, it may open you up to embarrassment and feeling more like that proverbial prehistoric dinosaur.

Instead, common-ground topics that are safe zones might be most appropriate. Topics like where they went to school, where they are originally from and their hobbies and interests are a great place to start.

College and professional sports, travel and restaurants are also good subjects that you are more likely to share commonalities about and will make you much more relatable.

Dive Deeper

Once you have moved on from the small talk, when you dive deeper, uncover what their values are and what really makes them tick. This is what will ultimately build the greatest trust with them, not the small talk. Find out more about their family and friends. What is most important to them? What drives them to invest with you?

When you dive deeper, you will quickly discover that millennials’ values are of utmost importance to them. Work-life balance is critical. They want to feel engaged at work and they also crave a true sense of purpose. They have an entrepreneurial spirit. Socially responsible investing is also extremely important to them. Ask them which of their core values rank the highest and why?

Generation Z, on the other hand, has a strong desire to make a difference in the world they live in. They place high importance on volunteering and philanthropy. The large majority are concerned about humanity’s impact on the world and they want their professional job to impact the world. Find out more about where they volunteer and why. What philanthropies are near and dear to their hearts?

These subject matters are truly a treasure trove for you to discover. How can you help them to invest to match their personal values?

Although age does divide you, you’ll likely discover you have much more in common than you both originally thought.

The Bottom Line

Rest assured, a few gray hairs will not deter your connection to the younger generations. In fact, you should wear them proudly, as your age is likely to find them ready and willing to listen to your expertise.

The younger generations want your advice. Age is just a number. But, being sincere in your efforts to connect with them is what will separate you from the rest.

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