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Attracting Younger Generation Clients

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BOSTON - With the transfer of wealth from baby boomers to the younger generations already underway, financial advisors need to adjust or risk getting left behind.

That wealth transfer is estimated at $18 billion, and Generations X and Y already control about $10 billion, Kristin North, vice president of institutional sales at TD Ameritrade Institutional, said at the Women Advisors Forum in Boston on Monday.

“You’re going to have new clients than you’ve had before, younger clients,” North told the audience of financial advisors, while also indicating that only about 17% of clients’ children typically stay with their parents’ financial advisor.

“That’s kind of a scary statistic,” North said. “What you have seen as your typical revenue source is going to change.”

In order to move with that change—and fully embrace the new generations of clients—advisors must learn how to attract the younger set and also embrace them as employees, North said.

Generation Y, which includes individuals born from 1977 through 1989, typically rely on their friends, relatives and colleagues more for information, and are more likely to trust those relationships than their investment advisor.

In order to meet the needs of those younger clients, financial advisors need to be where they are, which is mostly online, North said. That makes websites a must have for any advisory practice, so that potential clients can easily find out more about the business. It also means answering their inquiries on more of a 24/7 basis, rather than waiting until Monday morning to respond to an email, North said.

Among the other ways financial advisors can seek out younger clients include creating low cost/less service options, such as working with medical students during their residencies to lock in those clients before they’ve achieved wealth in their careers. Financial advisors can also reach out to younger generations through direct marketing and by developing solid relationships with their parents, North said.

But above all, financial advisors need to also embrace the younger generations by hiring them to work in their practices, North said. By doing that, they can not only attract younger clients who want to work with their peers, but also reassure those clients that there will be someone there to handle their needs once the more senior advisors retire.

At TD Ameritrade, where more than half the work force is comprised of Generation Y, that has meant embracing new practices, North said. That includes implementing a volunteer service program and partnering with Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics to cater to the younger set that gravitates toward volunteerism.

Other important elements to emphasize when bringing along employees from the younger generations include: providing a clear big picture, letting them know how they fit in, effectively working with technology and social media, and providing meaningful feedback and a clear career path. It may also mean allowing employees to set their own hours apart from a traditional 9 to 5 schedule.

“Some flexibility goes a long way in terms of motivating and retaining employees,” North said.

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