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From the Horse’s Mouth, How to Relate to Millennials

November 11, 2013

A less than erudite article on the website of Cetera Financial Group nevertheless offers advisors some helpful pointers for attracting and working with clients from the Millennial generation — a cohort 82 million strong. The author, whose father is a financial planner and who is herself a Millennial, believes her peers badly need advisors. Most can’t balance their checkbooks, she claims.

That’s part of what makes them such promising prospects. Furthermore, the author cites an estimate (which may or may not be from Deloitte) to the effect that Millennials will be outearning baby boomers by 2018. Although they’ve lived through terrible economic times, they are “entrepreneurial and connected,” according to the writer.

The “connected” quality makes them highly desirable clients, because Millennials digitally share almost everything they do, often while they’re still doing it — especially if they’re having a positive experience. As the article puts it, “Once you have a few loyal Millennials, more will come your way.” The author adds that this generation tends to become attached to brands early and strongly.

Advisors who want to make an impression on Millennials should remember that they have a different attitude toward authority from that of baby boomers, who proudly mistrusted anyone over 30. The Millennials were brought up with family meetings, in which parents solicited kids’ opinions while offering suggestions. Cetera’s writer says a collaborative approach therefore works best with this generation, which is accustomed to being taken seriously yet open to advice.

She also declares that they have “a hunger for risk” on which financial advisors can “capitalize.” But the marketing examples she cites as successful sound fairly bland: a State Farm “coffee shop” in Chicago where Millennials can chat with advisors, an online contest sponsored by Zions Bank “to see who can save the most in one month.” Perhaps the most important thing for advisors to remember about Millennials is that the crashes of 2000-2002 and 2008-2009 colored this generation’s view of the markets. Talk to them about “stretch goals or ideal outcomes,” the author warns, and you’ll lose your audience.

By Joan Warner
  • To read the Cetera article cited in this story, click here (free registration required).