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Walking the Client Demographic Tightrope

There are moments throughout my day as a financial adviser when I feel like a tightrope walker performing a delicate balancing act.

On one side, I have my baby boomer clientele who expect a high level of personalized service, one-on-one meetings, retirement planning advice and general counsel whenever it comes time to make an investment decision.

I’m comfortable working with these clients, who I’ve primarily served throughout my 28 years in financial planning. This demographic has also had a lifetime to build up investable assets and possesses a willingness and ability to compensate their adviser.

On the other side, I know I have to start catering my services to a younger clientele if I want to be in business 20 years from now. However, this demographic comes with an entirely different set of demands and expectations. For the most part, they’re less interested in face-to-face meetings, they are just starting out in their careers and possess minimal investable funds and they are quick to do their own research and make their own decisions. This is where the balancing act comes into play.

Advisers today are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They’re comfortable serving their baby boomer clients, who also happen to be much more profitable than their younger counterparts. Yet over the next several decades, this generation is going to transfer more than $30 trillion in assets to their children, and our industry must begin to pivot our services in favor of a younger clientele if we wish to survive. However, while we know this demographic is the future, they do not exactly represent a profitable business opportunity today.

So what can we do? For starters, it’s important to remember that your career as a financial planner is a marathon, not a sprint. No one is advocating for you to completely revamp your business and cater exclusively to millennials. But here are a few steps every adviser should consider as they begin to reposition their practice for the great wealth transfer.

  1. Hire younger advisers with the wherewithal to understand and utilize the electronic forms of communication favored by Gen X and millennial investors today. These younger advisers not only bring a fresh perspective to your approach to financial planning, but will be able to counsel more senior advisers on new communication tools enabled by technology.
  2. Consider charging younger clients in a different fashion by utilizing consulting or hourly fees and establishing small account offerings with lower fee arrangements. Millennials specifically are not accustomed to paying a 1 percent management fee like your older clients, nor do they possess the level of investable assets to make this fee meaningful for the adviser. Get creative in your compensation structure, and find a way that serves both parties’ best interests.
  3. Partner with a broker/dealer that offer investments products with low minimums. These broker/dealer partners can also counsel your team on how to best put these products into the hands of your younger clients.

At the end of the day, the long-term financial needs of Gen X-ers and millennials are very similar to those of their parents, and in many ways the actual planning process will largely remain the same. However, reaching and interacting with this demographic will require a much different approach. Hang on to that balancing pole and continue to walk the tightrope. It will pay off in the end.

Beth Richardson
Beth A Richardson, CFP®, is a financial adviser at Maleta Wealth Management, a Kestra Financial-affiliated firm. She specializes in wealth management, concentrating in retirement and estate planning for senior corporate executives and high net worth individuals. 


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Your Service, Your Story, Your Value

A financial planning practice must be able to articulate and demonstrate a planner’s value, story, service menu and deliverables—these remain the most fundamental elements of your business. After all, if you can’t convey and verbalize what you do, how will you attract people to your business and grow? And, if you don’t consistently deliver your value, how will you retain clients and sustain success? As we enter the fall, it is a good time to go back to the basics.

How well can you—and every team member regardless of role—answer the following fundamental questions?

Positioning: Who are You?

  1. What is your identity as a business? How does your community perceive who you are and what you do?
  2. Do you go beyond your title and firm name when someone asks you what you do for a living?
  3. Do you have a differentiating and intriguing story? Does each team member articulate a cohesive message?

Purpose: Why Do You Do What You Do?

  1. Why are you in this business?
  2. What is your vision? What is the team’s vision?
  3. Where are you leading the team? Where are you leading your clients?

Proposition: What Do You Offer and to Whom?

  1. Can you delineate the solutionsservices and deliverables that you offer to each client segment?
  2. What problems do you solve and for whom?
  3. What is your reactive service strategy? What is included in your proactive service matrix?
  4. How do you define and delineate the ultimate client experience?

Price: How Much Do You Charge for Your Deliverables?

  1. Do you consistently execute on your pricing model or are there more exceptions than standards?
  2. How transparent are you with pricing? Do your clients understand what they are paying and what they are receiving for that fee?

Process: How Do You Do What You Do?

  1. What is your defined process for working with prospects and clients and do you consistently execute it?
  2. Do your prospects have clear expectations on what they will experience when working with your team?
  3. How efficient and systemized is your business?

Differential: What Makes You Different?

  1. Can each team member answer the question, “Why should I do business with you?”

We recommend that you schedule quarterly off-site team sessions to focus on the strategic side of your financial planning practice. You should reflect and identify successes and challenges, and then look ahead and plan for the future. The questions listed above are a starting point. Consider the strength of your value today and what changes may need to take place as you head into the future.

Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights, where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions.

 

 


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Seize the Summer with These 3 Growth Activities

Summertime can be a wonderful time to relax and recharge your batteries after a tough spring. But it can also be a great time to grow. Many advisers and their staff have excess capacity at this time of year, as clients are off on vacation. So, before you leave work early, stop and think about what a productive summer could mean for your business. You could be in high-growth mode come September instead of looking at a long list of tasks you need to complete before year-end. Here are three ways to help you get there.

Here are three growth activities you can do this summer:

1.) Connect with clients. Summer offers many opportunities to strengthen relationships with your best clients. Be sure to actively listen when clients talk about their vacation plans. If they are traveling to a particular destination, follow up with an article or item geared toward their trip. For example, clients going to a cooking school in France might love a whisk, along with a note saying you hope they whip up some wonderful summer memories. Clients heading to a national park might be thrilled to read a timely article on the “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Yellowstone.” These types of gestures could get clients talking about you, leading to introductions to potential new clients.

There’s another benefit to active listening: the ability to source names to follow up on at another time. Who is on the client’s tennis doubles team or golf foursome? Who will be at the lake house? Who’s coming to town for the family reunion? Be sure to add these names to your CRM system or database to keep your pipeline of prospects full and healthy.

2) Get to know clients’ families and friends. Are children, grandchildren or other relatives coming to town? Mention that you’d be delighted to meet them. Perhaps clients are hosting a barbecue you could attend. Or maybe there’s a Little League game in your area where you could watch their son or granddaughter pitch. Imagine their surprise and delight to find you in the bleachers, cheering on their young ones. And if you bring along a small cooler with popsicles or ice cream treats for after the game, you can quickly get introduced to a large number of players (and their parents) and make a great first impression. It’s a great way to turn clients into advocates for you.

3) Leverage community events. Many cities and towns hold free summer events that you can spin into your own unique entertainment offering. Invite clients to attend an outdoor movie in your community, and bring along blankets, popcorn, movie treats and soda to hand out. Or suggest clients come enjoy a band concert in the town square with you, and offer them wine and cheese while they relax to the music. (You’re likely to have clients introduce you to others, too, in a casual setting like this.)

Remember to take pictures (get permission, of course), and leverage the event even further by sharing those images on your website, blog or social media channels. The opportunity to delight your clients and meet potential new ones is all around you this time of year.

Make this summer fun—but make it matter to your business. When you prioritize connecting with clients, and getting to know their friends and families, you’ll create a pipeline full of prospects that can propel your business forward. And you’ll be well positioned to capture business leading into the end of the year.

Kristine_McManus_2_lg
Kristine McManus, is the chief business development officer of Commonwealth Financial Network.