Millennials are one of the largest, most scrutinized generations in history. Although most of the 80+ million members of this generation have yet to build or inherit their wealth, they are expected to be the primary beneficiaries of the “great wealth transfer” of approximately $30 trillion in the near future. So why should financial advisors pay attention to them now? Because engaging this next generation of investors is crucial to the future success of your business—in the next decade, millennials will enter their prime earning years and their wealth will grow significantly.1
Be warned: this generation’s view of Wall Street is skeptical, to put it mildly. This distrust—paired with the fact that financial advice is becoming increasingly democratized with the rise of new technology platforms that deliver convenient, affordable advice—is a significant threat to your business. While a relationship-based and tailored approach to wealth management remains preferable over the long term, it would be foolish to ignore the evolving landscape of the new (and expanding) set of digital competitors that are competing for your clients.
How can you take advantage of the millennial opportunity before it’s too late? Here are three strategies:
The easiest place to begin cultivating relationships with millennial clients is an obvious one—your current clients’ children and grandchildren. Offering them personalized advice will only take a small amount of your time and can have a large impact. Beyond that group, where else can you “find” millennial clients? Focus on the HENRYs—high earners not rich yet—that you can meet at networking events. Millennials love to get ahead fast and know that to do that they need to build a strong and diverse professional network. Join a local group and offer to speak at events. A similar idea would be to partner with a business school and offer to guest lecture once a quarter.
Millennial Tip: If you secure a speaking opportunity and don’t know what to focus your advice on – pick an issue or topic that millennials are dealing with in their lives right now. For example, topics could include: Loans & Groans—restructuring your student debt; Couples & Money—I DO but do I also need a prenup?; Purpose & Performance—how to align your investments with your values.
What do you need to do differently with the next gen investor? Traditionally you have acted as a service provider and your clients have outsourced the money management part of their life to you. For a millennial client, you need to position yourself as a partner not a provider. Why? Because they want to work with you and be a part of the process. Establish yourself as the expert, share your knowledge with them and then co-create a financial plan together.
Millennial Tip: Rather than use the standard risk tolerance focused investment policy statement, create a new version with more personal questions. (FYI: Roboadvisors are doing this part very well.) The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of their values and interests, life goals and money behaviors. What do they want their portfolio to do for them? What issues are most important to them?
The traditional asset allocation portfolio will not excite a millennial. This generation is driven by having a purpose and making a positive impact. They are drawn to companies that “take a stand” and have a dim view of companies that are harmful to their communities or the environment. According to a recent Morgan Stanley survey, millennials are nearly twice as likely as the general pool of investors to have made a purchase because of a brand’s environmental or social impact and 86% are interested in sustainable investing.2
Millennial Tip: Ask your millennial client what kind of impact they want to have and then co-create a portfolio that aligns their investments with their values. Consider offering them impact investment strategies that are moving the needle on issues such as gender equality and climate change.
The bottom line: Reaching the next generation of financial investors will require a shift in how you do business, but the potential payoff is worth it.
Kelly Coyne is a registered representative of ALPS Distributors, Inc.
The statements and opinions expressed are those of the authors of this report. All information is historical and not indicative of future results and subject to change. This information is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security.