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Marketing Tricks to Reach Gen Y

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Most financial advisors are looking for new clients and, perhaps obviously, finding them through referrals would be ideal. But referrals are unlikely to produce an army of young clients.

Several younger advisors have found innovative ways to reach out to Gen Y prospects, leveraging the Internet and the power of social circles. Below are a few examples of smart ideas I’ve come across.


Mary Beth Storjohann, founder of Workable Wealth in San Diego, uses a local “mastermind group” to connect both on- and offline with other colleagues. She meets with this group in person, but many of its members have extensive web presences and social media following — and she’s been able to piggyback on their online connections.

In past months, she has been interviewed on two podcasts: Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and John Lee Dumas’s Entrepreneur on Fire. These names may not mean much to some readers, but don’t write them off. Flynn’s podcasts have been downloaded some 8 million times, and he has an online community of over 100,000 people. Dumas has similar statistics — his podcasts have been downloaded more than 5 million times and he has an online community of over 35,000 people.

By being featured alongside these online leaders, Storjohann instantly gained a level of credibility with their followers; the platforms give her access to a large array of potential clients.

She told me she had received a significant spike in traffic on her website and newsletter signups after these interviews.


Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning in Minneapolis, has a target market of Gen Y professionals. She has used her writing skills to partner with content websites with much larger audiences than she can reach on her own.

When she finds sites that already have a Gen Y audience, she pitches herself, the value she can provide and financial content that would benefit their audience. And she casts a wide net: Although her writing appears on many sites that are primarily finance-related (like AOL Finance, Forbes and Business Insider), she has also appeared in The Huffington Post and on the female-focused lifestyle site xojane.com.

By partnering with such sites, she has generated enough prospect traffic that she can be selective in deciding which clients to work with.

A similarly broad approach has worked for Brittney Castro, whose videos show her shopping at Target, dancing with her dog … and offering sound financial advice.

The president of Financially Wise Women in Los Angeles, Castro is also an avid blogger and YouTube video creator who likes to think of herself as “an artist and performer, not just a planner.”

Castro, who markets to professional women, knew that these prospects wouldn’t have a lot of unoccupied time to participate in live classes. Because she found them accessing her live webinars later in the day when their work duties were over, she created a series of on-demand videos that offer financial guidance to young professional women.

She promotes this program to new prospects via social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once she has answered questions and someone signs up for the program, her work is complete. Each unit is delivered by recorded webinar and accompanied by fillable PDF worksheets; videos, worksheets and follow-ups are delivered by pre-scheduled emails managed by her newsletter subscription service.

She says 30 people have gone through the program, begun at the start of 2014, and she hopes to get 100 attendees by the end of the year.


Like Storjohann, Castro doesn’t ignore face-to-face networking. Yet while many advisors maintain traditional center-of-influence partnerships with attorneys, CPAs and insurance brokers, Castro has chosen to reach out to owners of businesses that encourage lifestyles that she endorses — like local yoga and spiritual centers.

While women go to these venues to benefit their body and spirit, Castro hosts events that encourage women to work on their financial life as well, and has found these sessions to be a source for prospective clients.

Of course, these out-of-the-box tactics — whether online or off — aren’t limited to advisors who are just starting out. John Smartt, an advisor in Knoxville, Tenn., has been volunteering for Habitat for Humanity for 20 years. At 70, he finds joy in working only three days a week, while spending another three days building houses with volunteers.

At these Habitat projects, he starts conversations by asking people, “What do you do when not hanging vinyl siding?” What follows are stories from various walks of corporate life.

When he is invited to tell his own story, he has found that people are far more willing to ask questions and engage in investing conversations in a neutral and relaxed environment. He credits these conversations with bringing at least 15% to 20% of his current client base.

Another smart offline strategy: Go where your prospects are. For Castro, that’s a yoga studio. For me, it’s conferences for teachers, who are my target clients.

There’s a story in Thomas J. Stanley’s Networking With Millionaires audiobook about an insurance agent who followed the NASCAR tour, where his prospective clients often raced. He was once asked why he wouldn’t be attending an insurance conference where he was to receive an award. His response: “I’ve never sold an insurance product at an insurance conference.”

I took that to heart and have been attending some education conferences already, with more scheduled throughout the year. I know that many of my ideal prospects won’t find me online, so it makes sense for me to go where they are.

Dave Grant, a Financial Planning columnist, is founder of Finance for Teachers, a planning firm, and Fee Only Consulting, in Cary, Ill. He is also the founder of NAPFA Genesis, a networking group for young, fee-only planners. Follow him on Twitter at @davegrant82.

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