Marketing to Millennials: Insight from a Top Financial Services PR Firm

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The millennial generation may be the most demanding and confounding generation yet for the investment advisory industry. Over 80 million strong, this demographic is changing the way the world does business. Independent and innovative, members of Gen Y have a knack for wanting to be deeply involved in matters that concern them, whether it be their workplace performance reviews or investing in their 401(k).

Unfortunately, the changes in economic conditions, government policy and corporations’ approach to employee benefits positions the millennial crowd to be the first generation that enters retirement without the benefit of corporate pensions and Social Security.

This is where you—the financial advisor—come in. Not only does Gen Y want your help, but it is chock-full of investors who need it. According to a recent study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 61 percent of millennials want advice when saving and investing, yet only 32 percent of those who are saving actually use a financial advisor. Yes, this means new potential clients. The question is, do you have what it takes to win their business?

Millennials possess a unique characteristic that sets them apart from their Gen X, boomer and silent generation counterparts: They want to learn everything. How? These kinesthetic learners pick up concepts through hands-on experience. If you want to attract millennials’ attention, you have to readjust your approach to client service, interaction and engagement. Despite what their shiny iPhone 5S might suggest, not everything about the millennial is “new.” Their way of thinking may require you to turn back the calendar—think back to the days of quarterly reviews and client appreciation events. Millennials want to be involved, so make sure you market to their needs. If you want your RIA to effectively communicate with Gen Yers, you have to start thinking like them.

Here are three kinds of millennials you need to know about:

1. The Socialite. Gen Yers spent their younger years in the world of digital interaction; having grown up during the age of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, this generation likes to feel connected, and it goes without saying that they use and trust social media more than offline media. Thus, branding for the online sphere becomes crucial to attracting the social butterfly that is the millennial.

However, connectivity transcends the digital space. Online branding needs to be supplemented with client appreciation events to gain Gen Yers’ trust. The millennial is a socialite who likes building relationships and trying new things, so it’s time to dig into your dusty sack of tricks and bring out the client appreciation event complete with modern twists and luxuries to attract and win the trust of young clients.

2. The Skeptic.It’s never easy watching loved ones stress, especially when it comes to money. As millennials watched their parents go through unemployment and struggle to make payments during the Great Recession, they were still relatively young. Now, as members of this generation become more established in the workforce, they are beginning to invest with a sense of caution.

In order to help millennials feel confident and overcome extreme conservative investing, advisors will earn trust through providing a thorough education about personal finance and saving for retirement. Millennials want the facts, but they also want to feel cared for; quarterly client reviews will allow advisors to explain portfolio performance and show support. Keeping in mind that this generation came of age during the last financial crisis, consistent updates and education will let millennials feel confident about their investments.

3. The Seasonal Thinker. Semesters, sport seasons and summers. Millennials may have graduated, but their frame of mind has yet to change with regards to time. They’re not short term-thinkers, but rather segmented-thinkers. Advisors should adjust to the millennials’ way of thinking and provide thorough reviews and explanations to give these clients the structure they so desire. Follow up with frequent check-up calls, as well; these young investors will feel more comfortable knowing where their portfolio stands.

Take care of the millennials and they will take care of you as their young wealth grows.

Editor’s Note: This post is a collaboration between Melanie and a new member of the GregoryFCA team, Kelly Forst.