You almost need a scorecard to keep the generations straight today. You’re dealing with Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Y. But it’s important for you to not only know the differences between these demographic cohorts but to also understand how those differences can help grow your business.
Every generation since the dawn of time has been unique. That’s especially true today. You probably work with a lot of Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, the Boomers are now either in retirement or about to retire. So, you’re likely dealing with a lot of them. It’s the other younger generations that require your attention.
To secure and grow your financial firm’s business you must think about the needs of your current clients’ families and heirs.
A firm that only looks at its existing clients’ current and close-in needs runs the risk of stagnating. To avoid that fate, you must look to the future, which is populated by Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Yers.
Learning to connect with these younger investors is critical to your firm’s long-term prospects.
Consider the case of a wealth manager I describe in my book, Dr. Cole Cash Will See You Now. This savvy woman didn’t like the direction her firm was heading. She told me, “‘Basically … we’re really not in a great place. I mean in terms of AUM, we’re strong. But the numbers are slipping. Our clients are aging or dying, and most of the partners in the firm haven’t done such a great job of reaching out to the next gen. So, when our clients go, their money goes, too.”
That advisor clearly saw the writing on the wall.
When members of an older generation die, their wealth is transferred to the next generation. And it will eventually go somewhere. It’s essential that your firm is positioned to hold onto those assets. That means getting to know the people who will inherit that wealth — the Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Y crowd.
If you are older, this process may require a steep learning curve. As Stephen Covey famously advised, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Remember, each generation sees the world differently from those that came before it.
Here are five simple steps for connecting with the next generations.
Promote intergenerational wealth transfer. This should be part of the business value proposition. Make certain the client understands you can make the transfer of wealth go smoothly when it transitions to their children and grandchildren.
Build a broad network of experts. You likely already provide the services of tax and legal experts to your clients. Take it to the next level by expanding that to include specialty areas such as eldercare support, financing, long-term care, insurance, real estate, and Social Security decision-making.
Develop relationships beyond the primary client. I write extensively in this blog about the essential importance of maintaining strong, healthy client relationships. Now go beyond that by including the client’s spouse and heirs in decisions. Consider including their attorney, business partners and close friends. That way you cultivate a relationship with the entire family rather than just one individual.
Enhance organizational capabilities. Position yourself so that you’re one of the people called first when something significant happens in the client’s family. Consider having junior advisors connect with the client’s adult children so you can take a “whole family approach” to the client relationship.
Focus on technology. Once again, make technology work for you. A Boomer client’s children and grandchildren are comfortable with, and often handle all things tech for their elders. Social media can help you connect with those other generations.
Taking these few steps today can go a long way in helping make sure your clients’ wealth stays with you for another generation — and beyond.