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9 Things Advisers Can Do to Connect with Younger Clients

There’s a lot of information out here about the characteristics of millennials and Gen Z (millennials were born between 1980 and 1994, and Gen Z from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s). But, there’s not much out there on how these characteristics impact financial advisers and what advisers should do to make sure they’re well positioned for these future clients.

So, here are some characteristics of younger clients along with some (relatively easy) ideas to help financial advisers to be more relatable to younger generations.

They’ve never used a desktop computer. Imagine them walking into your office and thinking, “What are those big boxes under everyone’s desk?”

Easy fix: Have laptops and iPads. Don’t have desktop computers in your office; at least not in client meeting rooms.

They take notes on their smart phone. But, they know that older people, particularly people in positions of authority, think they’re texting.

Easy fix: During a meeting, say “…and hey… if you want to take notes on your phone, please go ahead.”

They’ve never watched cable. They didn’t “cut the cord”—they never had a cord to begin with.

Easy fix: If you’re looking to find common ground over a TV series, pick something you know is on Netflix; or just stick to “Game of Thrones”—everyone watches that.

Being an influencer or a gamer is a current or future job opportunity. And, it can be quite lucrative. There are even a few advisers already specializing in this niche. To that point, Merrill Lynch had a booth at this year’s Twitchcon.

Semi-easy fix: Know the top social platforms, gaming platforms, and games – at least by name. Here’s a link to the top streamed games on Twitch in 2019.

They have a “fight the power” mentality. I mean, look at the political environment they’re growing up in.

Easy fix: When talking about financial decisions, always have an alternative. In fact, use your preferred approach as the alternative. For example, “People your age usually go with a 60/40 portfolio, but if you really want to push the envelope, you could go with a 70/30.”

They respond to edgy campaigns.

Easy fix: Slow down on the uber-professionalism. Not so much that you’ll be perceived as fake, but maybe try something edgy like having an Instagram account. Or…have some funny memes on the wall (if you don’t know what a meme is, well, you might be too far gone).

They prefer videos.

Easy fix and not-so-easy fix: Offer to meet over FaceTime. Then, use interactive video reports in lieu of quarterly paper reports. (I suspect we’ll see a bunch more vendors popping up who specialize here very soon.)

They’re global and more diverse than ever.

Easy fix: Make sure your office looks the same. And if it doesn’t yet, at least avoid the company pictures on the website where the whole team is together on a golf course with sunblock and polos. You know what I’m talking about.

They love giving their opinion! They grew up in a world where Instagram accounts become viral influencers by having nothing other than polls. This means, younger generations are following accounts for the sole purpose of giving their opinion.

Easy fix: Ask their opinion. About everything. Often. There are affordable—or free—survey tools that you can use, like Google surveys. And, they can be sent via text.

It also wouldn’t hurt to learn some of the lingo, or else your younger clients may be sus.

Stay cool.

Dani Fava

In her role as the director of innovation at TD Ameritrade Institutional, Dani Fava oversees the development of advanced investment management and technology tools designed to help independent registered investment advisers compete and thrive in a world of accelerating change. Having managed the launch of TD Ameritrade’s award-winning iRebal on Veo portfolio rebalancing technology, Fava rolled out the award-winning Model Market Center, TD Ameritrade Institutional’s innovative approach to bringing outsourced investment management capabilities to RIAs. Fava is also responsible for implementing voice-first capabilities at TD Ameritrade, which will employ conversational AI that can communicate with advisers. Fava joined TD Ameritrade in 2012 where she puts more than 15 years of wealth management knowledge to work. She was recently named one of the top 16 Women in Wealthtech, and one of the top influencers in Fintech and AI. She loves to talk about big data, finserv start-ups, artificial intelligence, CrossFit and basketball. Follow Dani on Twitter @DaniFava_TDA, for the latest in wealth tech.


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Design A Great Client Presentation to Get Results in 7 Steps

Whether you are thinking about a workshop or something simple to use one-on-one with clients, here are seven steps to help you structure a presentation that communicates your message and is designed to produce the results you want.

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  1. Know your purpose. What do you want to happen after your presentation? It shouldn’t be merely about increasing awareness or educating your audience. Rather know in advance specifically what you want your audience to do as a result of what they see and hear.
  2. Define the problem. What is the problem your clients and prospective clients want to solve? Is it retirement income they can’t outlive? Or managing risk? Or maybe it’s the problem they didn’t know they had! The first thing you should do is define the problem as your clients would describe or understand it.
  3. What is the conventional wisdom about the issue? What mistakes do clients often make in dealing with it? How do you see it differently?
  4. Sufficiently challenge your audience so that they realize that they can’t handle it on their own. Help them recognize that they need your help. Oftentimes this is best accomplished by asking key questions that challenge common assumptions people have or errors they make when trying to do it themselves.
  5. Assemble your points clearly and logically in a way that creates the structure or storyline for your presentation. What are the five (or six or seven) areas of needs and concerns that your target audience has? What are the key questions that people should ask? What are the mistakes that people often make?
  6. Provide your perspective. Once you’ve helped them understand that they have a problem, and why trying to tackle it on their own would be a mistake, it’s time to provide your perspective. This slide should say, “How I (or We) Can Help,” followed by some specifics that describe what you do to help people address the concerns you described.
  7. Describe next steps. This is your call to action – what you want them to do next, and what you will do to help them get started down the road to success.

Once you’ve created the overall structure, look for stories and images that create connection points with your audience and support your purpose. Limit your use of PowerPoint to illustrate rather than duplicate what you plan to say. Now you have a presentation that is designed to be memorable and produce your desired results.

Adam Kornegay

Adam Kornegay is a co-founder of Pathfinder Strategic Solutions. He has a background in marketing and business analytics. Coupled with his experience as a financial adviser, he helps a broad array of clients, from relatively new advisers to experienced planners, and consults with various financial services firms. He is a coach in the Messaging and Marketing Strategies FPA Coaches Corner

Susan Kornegay Headshot

Susan Kornegay, CFP® professional, is a partner at Pathfinder Strategic Solutions. After more than 30 years as a financial adviser, branch manager and practice management consultant, Kornegay enjoys helping financial planners define a comprehensive and consistent client experience and then market that experience in clear, client-friendly language. She is a coach, along with Adam Kornegay, RCC™​ in theMessaging and Marketing Strategy FPA Coaches Corner.


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How to Help Clients Have Difficult Conversations in Later Life

In partnership with the Financial Therapy Association, the Financial Planning Association® recently introduced a series to help financial planners prepare for working with clients experiencing life-changing situations. The new three-module, self-study online courses focus on common emotional events and share researched therapeutic techniques that financial planners can immediately use in their practices.

The first of the three-part series—Difficult Conversations in Later Life Planning—was relevant to financial planning practitioners as the average age of a wealth management client is 62. In addition, a future orientation is essential to financial planning which will necessitate conversations about later life even with younger clients.

See what you missed in the first installment of this Difficult Conversations Program Series:

Why Is This So Difficult?

Discussions around later life are difficult. Some common reasons include:

One of the most daunting reasons behind the increased difficulty in navigating these types of conversations is the concept of the fourth age. The fourth age is when a person becomes increasingly more dependent on others for daily care, usually starting at around age 80 or 85 and continuing until end of life.

The third age—the age after retirement—has become an increased focus as overall health has increased and people look forward to talking about what life will look like when they have more free time on their hands. But the fourth age is marked by health concerns and mortality is often scary for clients to even think about, much less plan for.

Part of the fear for clients is the idea of ambiguous loss—which is when we begin mourning something or someone that is not completely gone. There are two types of ambiguous loss:

  • Type 1: a person is physically absent but psychologically present (a child leaving for college)
  • Type 2: a person is physically present but psychologically absent (someone suffering from dementia)

While there are many examples of ambiguous loss in financial planning, the majority occurs when talking about the fourth age. This includes ambiguous loss around one’s identity when talking about retirement plans, or around one’s vitality when talking about deteriorating diseases (like MS or Alzheimer’s) and having to plan for long-term care. Financial planning education programs provide incredible training on how to handle the numerical side of planning for later life, but many of us feel inadequately trained in how to handle the human side.

What Can Planners Do?

Mental health theories can be applied to the financial planning process utilizing financial therapy techniques. The first webinar in the series focused on helping financial planners aid families in building resilience in the different stages of ambiguous loss through the use of these techniques.

Here are guidelines for planners to use these techniques in their practices from the webinar:

  • Finding meaning. Allow time for your client to tell their story and use reflective listening to elucidate the meaning they are formulating.
  • Tempering mastery means helping the family control what they can control and let go of the things they cannot control. Create multiple financial planning scenarios to allow them to feel more in control.
  • Reconstruction identity. Planners help reconstruct identities and roles within the family to help the family come to terms with changes that will occur around identity. Focus on how their identity may evolve around the ambiguous loss and use open-ended questions to help them create a new sense of identity.
  • Normalizing ambivalence. Families will sometimes experience ambiguous loss, which could make people feel scared, anger, guilt and shame all at once. Explain the concept of ambiguous loss to your client and how multiple conflicting feelings is completely normal to avoid any sense of guilt or shame.
  • Revising attachments. Encourage your client to get involved in their community (church, volunteering, etc.) so that they can have the social capital they need to avoid isolation.
  • Discovering hope. Instill hope in the family by asking supporting family members about their future dreams and goals beyond caregiving needs.

These guidelines do not need to be utilized sequentially. There are times where you’ll need to circle back. Instilling hope is one of those guidelines that should be at the forefront of financial planners’ minds throughout the planning process.

What’s Next?

We all know that financial planning as a profession is evolving to meet our clients’ needs in more than just the numbers. Financial therapy allows us to provide more holistic care to our clients facilitating trust and understanding that fosters the planner/client relationship.

The webinar provided a brief introduction of all of this and more, while also providing wonderful supplemental materials to help financial planners integrate this into their practice, including a video role-play demonstrating how one financial planner does this with her clients.

The webinar recapped here, plus the other two in the series, will be available as an on-demand package later this year. Stay tuned to learning.onefpa.org for more.

Smodic

Shelitha Smodic, CFP® professional, is a private wealth adviser at Westwood Wealth Management, based in Houston, Texas. Prior to joining Westwood, Smodic worked in supply chain strategy and design for the consumer products industry, including roles at Sysco Corporation, Coca-Cola Refreshments, and The Clorox Company. She earned a bachelor of science in business administration with a dual concentration in supply chain management and international business from The University of Tennessee. She is currently pursuing a master of science in personal financial planning from Kansas State University. She is an active member of the Financial Planning Association of Houston where she serves as the Pro Bono Director.

McCoy

Megan McCoy, Ph.D., LMFT, is a professor of practice at Kansas State University where she teaches courses for the Financial Therapy Certificate Program. Her research interests focus on Financial Therapy and how to create more empirical evidence to support work that she has seen change so many lives in her clinical experiences. Her work has been published in The Journal of Financial Therapy, The Journal of Financial Planning, The Journal of Family Economic Issues, The American Journal of Family Therapy, Journal of Systemic Therapies, Women and Therapy, Journal of Couple and Family Therapy, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, and Journal of Creativity in Mental Health. Dr. McCoy serves as secretary on the board of the Financial Therapy Association. She is the guest editor for the Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy’s upcoming special issue focused on financial therapy and the associate editor of profiles and book reviews for The Journal of Financial Therapy. Dr. McCoy has practiced financial therapy with clients in her private practice and alongside financial planners in conjoint sessions. She is currently developing a computerized version of Narrative Financial Therapy with Morningstar and plans to run randomized control trials later this year.