How financial advisors can attract millennial clients

Millennials stand to inherit a whopping $68 trillion from the baby boom generation.

But they aren’t necessarily taking cues from their parents on how to manage their money.

The proliferation of online money management platforms has given millennials more options than their parents once had.

Many are opting to go it alone, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, which found that 62% of millennials are getting their advice online or from social media. Just 21% said they primarily use a financial advisor.

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But there’s still room for advisors to develop relationships with this younger set, according to experts who spoke at the CNBC Financial Advisor Summit on Wednesday.

The millennial generation has weathered 9/11, the Great Recession and now the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left 38% of them feeling less optimistic, said Kristi Rodriguez, senior vice president at the Nationwide Retirement Institute, citing a recent survey conducted by the firm.

That is changing their willingness to work with an advisor. In 2016, less than 50% of millennials polled by Nationwide said they see a need to use a professional. In 2020, more than 75% said they want to work with an advisor to help them mitigate risk and plan for retirement, Rodriguez said.

While it has become a joke that millennials have killed certain industries, that is not the case for financial advice, said Jon Mauney, general manager at Betterment.

“I don’t think millennials have killed or are killing financial advisors,” Mauney said.

But to attract the business of younger investors, who range in age from 25 to 40, it is necessary for advisors to approach them differently than they do their parents.

Offering a more flexible approach, with a menu of prices rather than a one-size-fits-all percentage of assets under management fee structure, tends to appeal to this younger generation, Mauney said.

What also tends to go a long way with millennials is making them feel their advisors are trying to see the world from their perspective, according to Rodriguez.

“They want you to truly understand their ‘why,'” Rodriguez said.

Millennials also prefer to see diversity on advisor teams with regard to age, ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds, she said.

The good news for financial advisors is that an introduction to this younger generation may already be available through their boomer clients.

“Say ‘bring in your millennial child, let’s have a more comprehensive conversation and bring them into the fold,'” Rodriguez said.

Jinggo B Danuarta

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