How do you help investors achieve their goals? That is one of the fundamental questions at the heart of the advisor-client relationship. But there is no universal answer.
While each client has their own story — and therefore their own path to success — there are also some similarities among investors at the same stage of life. Generally speaking, younger investors are concerned with saving for future-them so they can build the life they want, while older investors are thinking about how to live in retirement and what kind of financial legacy they’ll leave for their loved ones.
It’s your job as an advisor to meet every client at their specific stage of life. When you select the right advisor technology, it becomes easier to address the expectations and needs of clients across generations.
Here, we’ll explore how client expectations differ — and remain the same — at each phase of life and how technology can help you seamlessly meet client needs regardless of where they are in life’s journey.
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Understanding the Generational Breakdown of Investors
In recent years, there have been sea changes in the demographics of investors.
Baby boomers still hold significant sway in the investing landscape. Born between 1946 and 1964, these individuals are either entering or already in retirement and managing the assets they’ve accrued over a lifetime of hard work. They hold about half¹ of the nation’s $140 trillion of family wealth.
However, they aren’t the only generation that’s investing. Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) and millennials (born 1981-1996) are in their prime earning years and accruing significant wealth that they’re putting toward major life events — purchasing real estate, financing college educations for their children, and saving for retirement.
Even the youngest adult generation, Gen Z (born 1997-2012), are becoming active investors. Thirty-seven percent² of 18- to 34-year-olds are currently investing, with three-fifths of these individuals entering the market in the last three years.
Advisors today must be able to meet each of these generations where they are and provide them with guidance that fits with their current financial reality and long-term goals.
Embracing a Range of Educational Channels
This begins with education and outreach. Showcasing your expertise is a way for you to build trust beyond your current client base and attract new business. There are myriad ways to get the word out about what you do, but where you go to interact with prospects will impact the demographic of clients you attract.
Social media is an essential piece of the puzzle if you want to speak to those younger generations. Seventy-nine percent³ of millennials and Gen Z adults report getting financial advice from social media.
Some educational channels remain universal. Email marketing is a way to reach a wide range of individuals, with the channel’s popularity remaining consistent⁴ across generations.
You can use email for all sorts of prospect nurturing. Invite investors to attend a webinar or in-person seminar, share an ebook you’ve created that explores a question you hear all the time from investors, or create a newsletter that shares your thoughts on more timely macroeconomic issues.
Creating an outreach plan that includes a variety of channels — some online and some in-person — allows you to cast a wider net and meet a range of prospective clients.
Advisor Technology for Understanding Needs and Developing Risk Profiles
Once you’ve brought people through the door, you’ll get to know them one-on-one. Asking each prospect or new client about their financial goals, concerns, and mindset around risk is crucial to providing customized advice.
You can indeed begin with some generational generalizations here. Typically, younger investors have longer time horizons and are willing and able to take on more risk. In comparison, older investors are closer to retirement and want more cautious strategies that help protect their wealth.
However, there will be nuance within each generational bracket. A younger individual trying to save for their children’s college educations may have less flexibility to accept risk than an individual of the same age who’s planning not to have children.
That’s why advisors must find flexible advisor technology that allows them to assess each prospective client’s unique mindset and needs.
A tool like BeFi20⁵ can help you understand a client or prospect’s underlying thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward money. This information empowers you to have more nuanced conversations around goals and planning and can help build trust early in your relationship.
Finding a comprehensive risk assessment tool is also vital. Generating a 3D risk profile that accounts for a client’s risk tolerance, capacity, and composure is essential to understanding the type of investment strategy you can suggest.
Leaning on tools that help you look beyond a client’s age and uncover the nuances of their situation and mindset is vital if you wish to offer personalized service.
Undertaking Personalized Planning with Advisor Technology
Once someone has signed on as a client, the deep and ongoing work of planning, investing, and reassessing your strategy begins.
This is where flexible advisor technology once again comes in handy. You need solutions to help you create a tailored plan and execute it seamlessly.
It starts with a customizable proposal tool, where you can adjust your presentation and suggestions to suit each client’s situation. The right tool will allow you to swap in personalized recommendations while maintaining your brand consistency.
Stress testing and risk analytics tools also help you deliver a higher level of individualized service at scale. Each client will come in with their risk tolerance, current holdings, and concerns about macroeconomic forces. A risk analytics tool can help you find suitable investment vehicles to align with each individual’s risk score, while stress testing can help you identify potential macroeconomic impacts on those holdings.
Stress testing that’s integrated into your tech stack also allows you to quickly address a client’s specific fears about any macro scenarios. Suppose someone comes in and asks you specifically about the potential long-term impacts of lingering inflation. You can run a stress-testing scenario on their portfolio to show potential upside and downside risks. And when the tool is integrated into your tech stack, you can do this at any stage in the process: before you execute your strategy, when there’s a significant shift in the macroeconomic environment, or when your client’s personal situation changes.
When serving clients across generations, it also helps to have access to a range of models and the flexibility to blend and combine strategies to find the right approach for each individual.
A model marketplace can help you find solutions that suit your firm and clients. You may choose to adopt a model to serve as your standard base for all clients, then add on and adjust other models (whether developed in-house or offered by a third party) to find the right solution for each person.
Offering a Range of Communication Channels
As you continue to build and strengthen client relationships, you want to ensure lines of communication remain open. No matter what generation your clients are a part of, they want to feel like your team is accessible and responsive.
A robust advisor technology solution will integrate all of your communication channels into one hub. This ensures your team has seamless access to all incoming messages, and no queries can fall through the cracks.
The right CRM can help you monitor incoming communications across your client portal, email, text, and phone. This flexibility allows you to connect with clients on whichever channel they prefer. It also helps ensure all your communications are tracked centrally, so you go into every client interaction with all of the relevant information on hand.
And lest you think having a client base that skews older means you can forego more digitally-advanced communication solutions, recent surveys uncovered a marked uptick in digital adoption among baby boomers. With 61% of boomers⁶ now using smartphones, this generation is more comfortable communicating via text, video chat, or messaging apps than ever before.
Ultimately, all clients seek similar things: personalized advice and a communicative client-advisor relationship. While how you offer that support may vary based on where each client is in life, the core want remains the same. The best advisor technology is adaptable enough to help you deliver a stellar client experience that meets each client exactly where they are.
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