SHOW COMMON GROUND
Gen Y consumers may be wary of working with someone who does not empathize with their problems. If you are a mature advisor, you're at an uncontrollable disadvantage because of the generation gap. One idea that might help sway me: Create a "client wall" on one wall of your conference room or reception area.
Display photographs of your current clients, Gen Y included - with client permission, of course. Next to the pictures, include the main goal the client is working toward. This will give your prospects comfort that they are working with someone who truly understands them.
Finally, when you walk into the room, greet them warmly by name and lead them in a conversation about themselves. Do not talk about yourself, or your company, until the couple asks or there is a natural end to the discussion about their needs.
Nothing is worse in the financial planning process than data gathering. It's time consuming and often repetitive. Your job is to make it as painless as possible.
When it's time to collect client information, have this process be driven by one of your younger associates, if possible — making that person the secondary contact, after you. This accomplishes two goals: It not only lets Gen Y consumers know that you work with their generation, but it also says you trust this generation to help you run your practice.
This associate will work closely with new clients to design and monitor their financial plan. At the onboarding meeting, he or she will run them through the process.
Be sure your firm has implemented technology to make this data-gathering process easier — perhaps a software package such as PreciseFP or FinaMetrica. Cutting-edge technology can sparks conversation — iPhone 5 and iPad mini, anyone?
As your associate finds common ground with the clients, they may offer up more information about themselves. Have your associate take notes; you can ask the clients further questions later on to help develop the relationship and refine their plan.
Is that close to the experience you currently provide? For some companies, it will be very close; for others, however, it would require a big change.
I'll admit: Even my firm, Vantage Financial Partners, doesn't offer all these experiences - but then again, if our target audience were Gen Y, we might want to reconsider.
Wouldn't it be great having a prospective client looking forward to working with you and coming back to see your receptionist again? Or your associate?
That's how outstanding companies operate. It's time to become one.
Dave Grant, a Financial Planning columnist,e is a financial planning analyst with Vantage Financial Partners in Arlington Heights, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners.