Reaching the Millennial Market
Financial guidance is important at every age. But how do you convey that importance to the millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1997) who have just started college or new careers?
There are 80 million millennials (currently ages 18 to 34) in the United States today. Many of them were in high school or college during the Great Recession and watched their parents struggle, losing retirement savings and even their homes, during the financial crisis. Millennials began repaying student loans while searching for jobs during a period of high unemployment.
These challenges have molded the millennial generation into one that believes in hard work and in saving and living frugally to achieve success.¹ Yet millennials are upbeat about their financial future: 32% said they earn enough now to lead the life they want, while 53% are optimistic that they will earn enough in the future.²
By the Numbers
Millennials are savers: 70% are currently saving for retirement ($32,000 median savings), and they started saving at the early age of 22 (compared with age 27 for Gen Xers and age 35 for baby boomers). Millennials admit that saving for retirement can be difficult — the “fear of missing out” is a real concern in their social media-dominated world, where they are exposed to the extravagant lifestyles, worldly vacations, and high-end purchases of friends and acquaintances.
Millennials are skeptics and also conservative investors. In a FINRA survey, just 25% said they are willing to take investment risk when saving for retirement and other long-term goals. They don’t expect high returns from the stock market, want their portfolios to be liquid, and prefer savings over investments.³ But millennials are active participants in their finances thanks to the Internet — 56% check their investments regularly (at least seven hours a month), compared with baby boomers who dedicate just two hours to the task.4
Build Your Millennial Business
How can you harness millennials’ enthusiasm about their finances into an advisory role? Millennials take a lot of financial advice from family and trusted friends, so a natural starting point should be to ask your current clients for an introduction to their adult children.5
Hold a seminar or client appreciation event, with a focus on attracting this younger audience (perhaps an event at a hip local brewery). If you conduct a seminar, choose a topic of interest that will bridge the generations so that adult children will accompany their parents – focusing on the importance of financial planning, short- and long-term savings, college savings, tax strategies, protection strategies, retirement. Six in 10 millennials surveyed by TIAA-CREF said they are interested in engaging with an advisor online, attending live seminars or webinars.6 Older millennials may have concerns about their parents’ preparedness for life after work; consider focusing on such topics as retirement checkup, estate planning, wealth preservation, health care, and long-term care.
Engage the Generation
The millennial generation is tech-savvy; they grew up with gaming systems, computers, mobile phones, and social media. You need to show that you are just as connected as they are! Have an online presence — make sure you have a website promoting your practice and offer educational material like videos, articles, and interactive calculators. Use search engine marketing to bolster your rankings in search results.
Understand Their “Needs”
Be flexible with their needs and develop different strategies for those who want DIY investments, advisor-guided support, or hybrid services.
Don’t come across as “salesy.” Be relatable. Millennials are skeptical. Allow them to bring their voices to the table and be sure to have data to back up your recommendations.
Communicate with millennials via mediums they use — email, website, social media, even text messages. Provide resources and materials so they can research, review, and interact with you on their terms.
Tailor your advice to subjects that matter most to millennials: managing student loans, saving for a home purchase or their children’s college education, personal finances, retirement planning.
Just one in 10 millennials surveyed has a plan for achieving retirement goals.7 This is the time to bring your services to this demographic. If you can establish a good reputation with just a few millennials, they’ll certainly tell their friends, which will help grow your business.
- UBS, 2014
- Pew Research Center, March 5, 2014
- Advicent Solutions, February 2015
- BlackRock, October 2014
- MarketWatch, October 11, 2014
- TIAA-CREF, December 12, 2013
- TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, July 2014