Members of Generation Y, those born in the United States between 1977 and 1995, are on track to become the wealthiest generation in U.S. history; Gen Y’s current annual income of $500 billion is projected to grow to $3.4 trillion by 2018, and it has a pending inheritance of more than $30 trillion, according to FTI Consulting.

Smaller financial advisors can build relationships and improve communication with this market segment by engaging them online and through their mobile devices with practical content that helps them make better financial decisions.

Advisors should use practical content, not “catchy” sales pitches to engage younger generations by educating them on pertinent financial issues they face. According to findings from a survey conducted by the National Foundation of Credit Counseling, 39% of Gen Y adults graded themselves a C, D or F in personal finance, and only 15% considered themselves to be “very knowledgeable” about retirement savings or investing outside of work.

Consistently reaching younger customers with content that improves their financial literacy can help financial advisors establish themselves as trusted partners when it comes to guiding customers of all ages through difficult financial decisions. Instead of flyers or bulk mail campaigns that advertise product and service offerings, consider e-newsletters that engage younger audiences with informative articles on the personal financial issues they are likely to face. Examples of article headlines may include:

  • Great Ways to Save for College
  • An Ideal Retirement Savings Portfolio for Twenty-Somethings
  • Why it Pays to be a Conservative Investor
  • How to Invest for Retirement without a 401-K    

If advisors choose to produce their own e-newsletter content, it is important they avoid using lengthy sentences, excessive parenthetical statements and industry jargon. Studies show that readers can better comprehend and retain concise information that is written in active language.
Fortunately, new financial e-communication systems can be used by advisors to regularly engage customers with e-newsletters containing professionally written, educational articles, without requiring the advisors to allocate precious internal time and resources. Content provided by these systems can be sent to customers through email, mobile phone devices and social media; advisors can extract existing Gen Y email addresses from their CRM or they can leverage addresses included in their parent banks’ email database.

Recent industry reports from KRC Research and Fiserv found that 75% of Gen Y prefers to receive financial services and account information via email; 33% of the segment used a mobile banking application in the last month.  And while it’s still difficult for financial advisors to establish a direct social media connection with Gen Y, advisors can use it to spread content virally across networks.  For example, the average Facebook user has a fan out (friends per individual) of around 130:1 – so the potential for exposure is significant even with small rates of customers posting content to their personal profile pages.

In addition to providing content, financial e-communication systems give advisors access to analytical dashboards that indicate readers’ interest in e-newsletter content.  This gives users valuable insight about the relevancy of financial topics to each recipient. For example, if a customer clicks on an article titled, “Why it Pays to be a Conservative Investor,” the advisor could then follow up with information about fixed income product offerings, since the customer might be looking for more conservative investment options.

Using content driven e-newsletters creates customer awareness of financial advisors and provides consistent branding and customer access while positioning them as partners, not salesmen. This is especially important in terms of appealing to Gen Y and younger generations because it enables advisors to educate them on financial topics through their preferred channels. When a customer, regardless of age, encounters a life event that triggers a need for financial service or advice, they will immediately think of their trusted financial advisor.

Mr. Capp is vice president of Banking Services for Waltham, Mass.-based IMN. He can be reached at