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Smart Ways to Win Millennial Clients

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Members of the millennial generation, hopefully your future clients, are a demanding bunch. But not how you might think.

They will judge you just as much by the content of your website as your portfolio performance. The information their parents might pay you for is not fee-worthy as far as these kids are concerned.

They want more—much more—for less.

Depending on how you cater to millennials, the oldest of whom are in their early 30s, you stand to gain or lose big. In the greatest transfer of wealth in U.S. history, researchers have estimated that more than $41 trillion will pass from one generation to the next during the next 50 years.

You want millennial clients? You have to understand who they are. Millennials grew up with technology—computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones, all of which got less and less expensive, while smaller and more powerful. They grew up with 24/7 news outlets, social media and digital music. They’re often more comfortable Googling and texting than having face-to-face conversations. They value any incremental improvement to their uber-connected lives. Because they are so tethered—to technology and to their parents—millennials will look to you for more than financial statements and generic investment information. They come informed. They do their homework.

Many millennials remember how the Internet bubble burst and their parents’ portfolios went down in flames. They understand the concept of risk tolerance. It is your job to keep up with them and tell them what it all means—for them. Millennials expect you to partner with them, not lecture them, on making their financial dreams come true—from buying their first home, starting families, forging their careers, giving back to their communities. Figure out how to tie your fees to chapters in their lives.

Managing money leaves you vulnerable to comparisons to shopping, done in just a few easy mouse clicks. Managing relationships, offering tailored advice—that’s how you attract your next generation of clients. So how do you do that?

Here are some ideas:

  • Start with your website. It’s the first impression millennials will have of you. It must be robust, with tons of helpful links and content that changes frequently. If you post a blog or videos, you must regularly update those pieces. Strive to refresh parts of your website weekly. 
  • Filter the noise. Don’t be threatened by younger clients who come armed with information and perhaps misinformation. Just as they might do with their doctors, they want you to tell them which sources are valid and what noise they should tune out.
  • Get feedback. Form a so-called client advisory council made up of a handful of Millennial clients or potential clients and ask them how you’re doing and how they rate their experience. What do they think of your website? What do they want from you? What are you not providing that they so desperately want?
  • Educate. Millennials love to learn. Offer free webinars and seminars on financial planning topics. Offer to speak at millennial networking groups. Give them a chance to interact with you, ask you questions.

The bottom line: Show millennials that you understand them, how they think and what they want from an advisor.
Wayne Badorf, CFP, CFS, is the head of Intermediary Sales for Wells Fargo Asset Management and president of Wells Fargo Funds Distributor. 

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