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Investing is a Very Personal Matter for Millennials

We spoke to MarketWatch about the research findings from a national study we led on Millennials and investing with Broadridge Financial Solutions

Family meeting with financial advisor

The Baby Boomer generation was taught—and subsequently taught many of their Gen X kids—that discussing finances was taboo. Like so many social customs of their predecessor generations, Millennials have upended that mindset. In fact, according to research we at The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) led with Broadridge, Millennials want to talk about their finances. And they want that conversation to get personal.

“Millennials discuss money with their parents. They discuss it with their friends. They want to hear advice from people in positions of experience and educated authority,” says Jason Dorsey, CGK’s President and generational speaker who delivers keynote presentations worldwide on how to understand and engage each generation. “They’re reaching an age where investing and money management is at the forefront of their minds, so hearing what peers and pundits think about their financial future is an important and welcome conversation.”

Interestingly, however, as MarketWatch noted in its article on the CGK/Broadridge study, while Millennials are ready to talk in-depth about their finances, investment advisors are struggling to get that conversation started. Why is that? Dorsey says it’s because financial professionals are trying to enter into a conversation with them like they would with a Gen X or Baby Boomer client.

“There’s a simple solution,” Dorsey says. “Advisors just need to shift their approach and start speaking Millennials’ language. They’re eager to learn; they just haven’t been taught in ‘their way’ yet.”

Consider this. According to the Broadridge/CGK study, 66% of Millennials opted for low-interest savings accounts over every other investment type. Is it because they’re risk-averse? Dorsey says not necessarily. In fact, they’re more open, for instance, to purchasing shares in private businesses and investing overseas when compared to older investors. So, it’s not a matter of steering clear of risk as much as it is understanding the risk reward of different options and how that fits their personal goals.

“They’re not investing as the financial industry would advise,” says Dorsey, because that advice just isn’t reaching them.

To capture their attention and get the conversation started and keep it going, Dorsey recommends you consider these approaches. Not only will you see success in engaging with Millennials, but you’ll realize that a finance dialogue with Millennials may be more fun, more casual, and more rewarding than you thought it could be.

Own your greys: Experience wins with Millennials

“Our study found that the #1 quality Millennials value in a financial advisor is experience,” says Dorsey. “Compared to just 33% of Boomers, 40% of Millennials said that a recommendation from an advisor would drive them to invest or save.”

That’s right. Millennials, unlike Baby Boomers who historically were leery of advice from their elders, value input from those they consider knowledgeable and experienced. So, don’t worry that your age might render you mute to your Millennial prospects; the opposite is actually true. It’s a badge of expertise.

Tell me about yourself: Millennials like to get personal

Here’s another departure from previous generations. Millennials not only want you to know them; they want to know you. “This is a generation who will invest $10K in their friend’s start-up because they know them, they trust them, and they want them to succeed,” says Dorsey. “It’s important to make a personal connection with them as their advisor in order to earn that level of trust.”

How? Ask them about their personal goals and the motivation behind those goals, Dorsey says. Even go so far as to ask if they have friends with businesses they find attractive as a way to identify where their investment interests may be.

Get chatty: Millennials want more communication, not less

It may come as a surprise, but the CGK/Broadridge study showed that 70% of Millennials welcome monthly or more frequent communication from their advisors—by email, conversation, or via social media. Remember, this generation grew up with constant access to information via the Internet, so what older generations may consider over-communication, these younger investors consider commitment and personal interest.

“But don’t just communicate with them about investment opportunities,” Dorsey advises. “Make your touchpoints more personal and more informational. For instance, share the environmental and social issues that are important to a particular equity investment; that’s the kind of information that inspires Millennials to invest.”

The mamas and the papas: Ping Millennial parents for referrals

Are you sitting down? Millennials, more than prior generations, listen to their parents. Yes, you read that right—at least as far as financial advice goes. And, Millennials would really like to listen to their parents’ financial advisors.

The national study found that 55% of Millennials would consider using their parent’s advisor, but only 20% had ever been introduced. Dorsey suggests hosting a cocktail hour or estate-planning event and make it a family affair. Have clients bring their Millennial children—and then make sure to engage them and ask them their financial goals to get to the heart of their investment business. Dorsey has spoken at many multi-generational events hosted by financial services companies specifically to get different generations of clients engaged, talking, and building trust around their financial connection.

Automate the routine stuff: Let auto-emails teach Millennials

Because this generation seeks personal attention and personal connection, that’s where you need to spend your time. With so many out-of-the-box financial education solutions available for advisors, you can focus on creating that personal relationship while letting auto-emails take them through the learning curve for you.

“Our study showed that Millennials are already outpacing Baby Boomers in terms of workplace savings plans, but 70% don’t have a personal financial advisor,” Dorsey says. “This is where you come in. Build relationships now, and you’ll be able to help these early- or mid-career professionals positively impact their portfolios.”

In a nutshell, the CGK/Broadridge survey shows that Millennials are ready and willing to invest now—they just need a little personal attention and advice. Deliver that, and you will be the trusted resource they turn for financial advice now and well into the future.

Want more insight into Millennial and Gen Z investing, money, and spending?

CGK’s acclaimed generational keynote speakers headline events around the world. Our speakers are passionate about helping clients discover the missing insights into each generation and how to apply them, in industries ranging from financial services and banking to healthcare and technology.

Reach out to us and we can share information on our work and how we can customize a presentation for your audience, and check our speakers’ availability.

For more generational discoveries, follow CGK on Twitter @GenHQ.

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