There’s a lot of information out here about the characteristics of millennials and Gen Z (millennials were born between 1980 and 1994, and Gen Z from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s). But, there’s not much out there on how these characteristics impact financial advisers and what advisers should do to make sure they’re well positioned for these future clients.
So, here are some characteristics of younger clients along with some (relatively easy) ideas to help financial advisers to be more relatable to younger generations.
They’ve never used a desktop computer. Imagine them walking into your office and thinking, “What are those big boxes under everyone’s desk?”
Easy fix: Have laptops and iPads. Don’t have desktop computers in your office; at least not in client meeting rooms.
They take notes on their smart phone. But, they know that older people, particularly people in positions of authority, think they’re texting.
Easy fix: During a meeting, say “…and hey… if you want to take notes on your phone, please go ahead.”
They’ve never watched cable. They didn’t “cut the cord”—they never had a cord to begin with.
Easy fix: If you’re looking to find common ground over a TV series, pick something you know is on Netflix; or just stick to “Game of Thrones”—everyone watches that.
Being an influencer or a gamer is a current or future job opportunity. And, it can be quite lucrative. There are even a few advisers already specializing in this niche. To that point, Merrill Lynch had a booth at this year’s Twitchcon.
Semi-easy fix: Know the top social platforms, gaming platforms, and games – at least by name. Here’s a link to the top streamed games on Twitch in 2019.
They have a “fight the power” mentality. I mean, look at the political environment they’re growing up in.
Easy fix: When talking about financial decisions, always have an alternative. In fact, use your preferred approach as the alternative. For example, “People your age usually go with a 60/40 portfolio, but if you really want to push the envelope, you could go with a 70/30.”
They respond to edgy campaigns.
Easy fix: Slow down on the uber-professionalism. Not so much that you’ll be perceived as fake, but maybe try something edgy like having an Instagram account. Or…have some funny memes on the wall (if you don’t know what a meme is, well, you might be too far gone).
They prefer videos.
Easy fix and not-so-easy fix: Offer to meet over FaceTime. Then, use interactive video reports in lieu of quarterly paper reports. (I suspect we’ll see a bunch more vendors popping up who specialize here very soon.)
They’re global and more diverse than ever.
Easy fix: Make sure your office looks the same. And if it doesn’t yet, at least avoid the company pictures on the website where the whole team is together on a golf course with sunblock and polos. You know what I’m talking about.
They love giving their opinion! They grew up in a world where Instagram accounts become viral influencers by having nothing other than polls. This means, younger generations are following accounts for the sole purpose of giving their opinion.
Easy fix: Ask their opinion. About everything. Often. There are affordable—or free—survey tools that you can use, like Google surveys. And, they can be sent via text.
It also wouldn’t hurt to learn some of the lingo, or else your younger clients may be sus.
In her role as the director of innovation at TD Ameritrade Institutional, Dani Fava oversees the development of advanced investment management and technology tools designed to help independent registered investment advisers compete and thrive in a world of accelerating change. Having managed the launch of TD Ameritrade’s award-winning iRebal on Veo portfolio rebalancing technology, Fava rolled out the award-winning Model Market Center, TD Ameritrade Institutional’s innovative approach to bringing outsourced investment management capabilities to RIAs. Fava is also responsible for implementing voice-first capabilities at TD Ameritrade, which will employ conversational AI that can communicate with advisers. Fava joined TD Ameritrade in 2012 where she puts more than 15 years of wealth management knowledge to work. She was recently named one of the top 16 Women in Wealthtech, and one of the top influencers in Fintech and AI. She loves to talk about big data, finserv start-ups, artificial intelligence, CrossFit and basketball. Follow Dani on Twitter @DaniFava_TDA, for the latest in wealth tech.