Matters Column

Getting to know the millennial generation

May 15, 2015
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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, the millennial generation or “Gen Y” (those born from 1981 to 1996) is projected to outsize the baby boomer generation as the nation’s largest living generation. There is a projected $30 trillion transfer of wealth from the baby boomers to their millennial heirs.

Outlined in this article are some key characteristics that may be helpful to advisors when working with this generation.

Millennials are relationship driven.

Many advisors who are part of a family office wealth management team may be concerned that their millennial family clients will abandon them when they take over their family businesses. However, according to a recent study by Family Office Exchange, millennial family clients made it known this was not their intent, but they indicated they must be able to relate to their advisors on a personal level before they will trust them in an advisory capacity.

Millennials don’t like to be spoken to in a way that makes them feel naïve or childlike. Advisors should focus on getting to know this new generation of clients on a personal level to build collaborative relationships because millennials are natural collaborators who like to give their opinions and receive immediate feedback.

Some actions you may consider to begin a collaborative relationship with millennial family clients include:

  • Asking about their interests and sharing some of your own.
  • Asking about their short- and long-term goals and offering advice.
  • Helping them solve a problem you uncover in your conversations.

Millennials crave transparency.

The dot-com bubble and the 2008 financial crisis made millennials timid about investing in the capital markets and skeptical of financial advisors. Millennials want transparency, honesty and authenticity. They want to know much more about the people who are managing their affairs and the companies they do business with than earlier generations, and they become skeptical when they are kept in the dark about important decisions and discussions.

Like anyone, millennials have access to whatever information is available online, and they are more likely than any other generation to go online first before making any buying or hiring decisions. Make sure the information on your company website truly captures what you offer and how you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Consider adopting some of the following behaviors that promote transparency:

  • Share your company history, mission statement and values with them to reinforce what they may already know about you from online research.  
  • Explain what they can expect from you as their advisor and deliver on that promise.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and touch base with clients regularly.

Millennials are technologically savvy.

Financial advisors who are early adaptors to new technology show millennials they aren't complacent and demonstrate a willingness to communicate with them in the way they prefer. Millennials live online and are constantly checking their social media feeds, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Online is their preferred way to get information.

Pew Research Center calls millennials history’s first “always connected” generation and refers to their integration of technology and the Internet to every aspect of their lives as “technological exceptionalism.”

Social media and blogs build trust, are transparent, help educate your audience, and they can help you connect with clients in a way that’s not just professional but also human.

Consider the following tips to further your engagement with millennials:

  • Create social media accounts and/or blogs for your company and add relevant content frequently.
  • Ask younger employees at your firm for their input on what social media channels would be most impactful for your company to explore.
  • Start conversations that will engage your audience.
  • Make sure everyone at your firm stays up-to-date with technology.

Millennials appreciate education.

Millennials are on course to become the most educated generation in American history. This fact explains why millennials would rather be educated than sold. Education is key; it builds trust and can secure multi-generational relationships. Education can come in many forms including webinars, white papers, commentary, or even social media posts.

Recommended actions to support your millennial family clients’ eagerness to learn include:

  • Regularly provide educational materials about the services you offer.
  • Listen for in-the-moment education opportunities during conversations.
  • Ask what they are interested in learning more about and find new resources to share.

Millennials may question doing things the way “they’ve always been done”; they are not averse to the status quo, but they want to understand the rationale behind it. By understanding millennials and learning how to communicate with them effectively and educate them, you can ensure a successful relationship and continued business with the millennial generation.

Marsh PCS helps successful individuals and families protect their personal property and lifestyles by providing insurance counsel and risk management solutions. Contact to learn more.

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