Why Millennials Don’t Seek Out Advisors – And What You Can Do About It

Jul 19, 2016

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There’s tons of talk recently about how millennials won’t go to financial planners for advice – and to be honest, I kind of agree with that statement. You’re probably thinking, “Thanks Missy, for wasting my time with your blog posts, where you promised to show us how to successfully target and serve millennials.” Not so fast! What I mean is that I agree with the notion that millennials don’t naturally seek out financial advisors when they need help. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no demand or need for financial advisors for millennials. It just means you have to approach this demographic slightly differently and think about the way they go about looking for “financial advice.”

Use your imagination

Scenario #1 – Imagine that you…

  • Are a 60-year-old baby boomer
  • Have been scared to invest again since losing money in 2008-2009
  • Built your wealth back up since then and downsized your home
  • And your spouse want to retire within the next 10 years
  • Need help with retirement and estate planning

Where would you go to seek out financial advice? The obvious thing to do would be to find a financial advisor, like most of your peers have already done. Maybe get a referral from friend.

Scenario #2 – Imagine that you…

  • Are a 29-year-old millennial
  • Got a late start to saving for retirement and are still paying off student loans
  • Are living in the city, working as a top sales rep at a large corporation
  • And you and your spouse are thinking about buying your first home
  • Need help with debt management, budgeting, and home-buying, and investing the discretionary income that has just been accumulating in your savings account

Where would you go to seek out financial advice? Your first thought probably is not, “I’ll just go find a financial advisor. That’s what everyone else does in this situation.”

Why you’re not a thing

Millennials don’t go looking for an advisor. When we need help, we do seek it out – but rather than going to an advisor, we rely on our own network of resources. Most of the time we’re struggling with a specific issue or question regarding a life event, such as home-buying, marital finances, student loans, etc. To us, that issue doesn’t feel like it warrants the need for “professional” advice, or quite frankly, that seeking professional help is even an option for someone our age. Our natural instinct is to use our own means to the find the answers or validate what we think is the answer to our questions – we simply Google it or go to our parents or friends to see what they would do. And guess what? None of these resources ever recommend that we seek out a financial advisor either, because hiring a financial advisor in your 20s-30s is really just not the norm.

Show yourself

So how do you catch millennials while they’re in the middle of their normal due diligence process of talking to friends or using Google to find the answer to their financial questions? I do think there’s an opportunity here to insert yourself into the picture and become more of an option. The key is not leading with “financial advice” – something that sounds so comprehensive that we assume only our parents with their wealth and financial complexity would ever need that service. Instead, lead with how you can help us address and plan for our top financial priorities, which we deem to be:

  1. Debt management – Primarily student loan debt (the average student debt accounts for 39% of millennials’ consumer debt burden)
  2. Savings – This goes hand-in-hand with budgeting, but really has more to do with the fact that we want to save for future life events or milestones
  3. Retirement – Unlike boomers, our focus isn’t on retirement income, rather it’s more about ensuring your account is set up and that you’re contributing enough

Change your marketing/advertising from a broad focus on “financial planning” or “wealth management” to address more millennial-specific concerns, like:

  • Prioritizing your student debt
  • How to save for your first home
  • The differences between traditional and Roth IRAs

When you lead with these niche topics, millennials will engage. That’s because you aren’t leading with being a financial advisor; rather, you’re just someone offering guidance on a specific issue they’re having.

In the end, it’s the same outcome, right? They’ve still gone to you for financial advice. It’s just that the method you used to engage them was different – more relevant and timely in answering their pressing needs or questions. You’ve inserted yourself into their natural process of seeking out financial advice, and Google (or maybe even a friend that found you first!) will refer them to your website or firm as a potential source for guidance.

And that’s how to get millennials to seek you out (even if they don’t realize it).

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Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig is the millennial contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as Program Manager for the Solutions Team in the SEI Advisor Network.

Learn More About Missy Pohlig

  • http://www.removetheguesswork.com IntegWealthNick

    Missy, as a millennial advisor, I loved this post. I have tried focusing on blogging about topics that I think young people could use some answers to. Great article!

    • Missy Pohlig

      @integwealthnick:disqus – Thanks so much! Blogging is a GREAT way to provide answers to their specific questions. I hope you find that this technique works for you! I’ll be sure to take a look at your blog too.

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