For all the stereotypes directed toward Millennials and Gen Z generations, being astute planners for retirement hasn’t typically been one of them. But financial advisors may underestimate how proactive younger generations are, despite retirement being further down the road.
The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during their prime earning years, in combination with the Great Recession and other global events over the last 20 years, may have impacted these generations to a greater extent than others.
Research backs it up. About seven-in-ten (72%) Americans think young adults have a harder time saving for the future than their parents’ generation did, according to Pew Research Center. About as many believe younger generations have a harder time buying a home or paying for college.1
A separate 2022 study by Deloitte supports these findings, citing that about one in three Gen Z (29%) and Millennials (36%) are most concerned with their cost of living. About half of them say they’re living paycheck to paycheck and are worried about covering their expenses. Plus, more than a quarter aren’t confident they will be able to retire comfortably.2
Despite falling optimism, they are determined to do something about it. As many as 43% of Gen Z and 33% of Millennials have a second part- or full-time job in addition to their primary job.2 These types of proactive measures indicate that younger generations may also welcome the advice and perspectives of professional financial advisors who can help them with their budgets and work toward financial stability.
But reaching younger clients hasn’t necessarily been a priority among some financial professionals. Perhaps it’s because there’s an assumption that they don’t have enough assets to warrant their time or that they simply aren’t interested. But engaging Millennials and Gen Z generations isn’t just important from the aspect of growing your book of business, it’s simply the right thing to do to help young investors prepare for their financial futures with more confidence.
Millennial and Gen Z Influences
While market volatility, the economy and global events play a major factor in young people’s outlook, there may be less eventful factors affecting their attitudes toward finances and how they plan for the future. The rise of social media and online shopping might play a significant role in how younger generations seek out financial advice and go about determining which financial advisor — if any — they should work with.
Millennials and Gen Z investors arguably rely on many more channels to access information than their older Baby Boomer or Gen X parents. As such, they might be more likely to leverage other non-traditional channels when investing their money. Have you assumed that younger generations aren’t investing as much because your average clientele is generally older? Or could it be that younger generations are, indeed, investing and that they’re simply not relying on advisors to do it?
Those in the financial planning industry may need to come to grips with the ways younger generations engage with their services and the processes they go through to come to a decision. The buying journey for most Millennials and Gen Z investors might look very different from their parents.
While seeking the advice of family and friends might still be a prevalent way to explore their options, those conversations may be more likely to occur via social media rather than at an in-person get together. The voices of social media influencers, whether local or national, might also play a role in helping them to formulate their investing strategies and next moves.
It also stands to reason that younger generations who are used to scanning dozens of reviews when purchasing products online will also conduct similar independent research for prospective financial advisors. It begs the question of whether your advisory firm is investing time and energy into building an online presence and asking clients to provide testimonials and reviews. Failing to do so could be a detriment when it comes to engaging the next generation of investors.
Whether those reviews are posted on social media or elsewhere may come with compliance considerations, so be sure to check with your compliance department. At minimum, including testimonials on your website regarding your client’s experiences could help you stand out among younger generations.
Referrals are another area where advisors may be able to extend their reach. Asking clients to share their experiences and invite friends and family on social media to consider your services may help open doors. Trust is a big factor among younger generations — any generation, really. So, when they see that someone they know and trust has endorsed your services, it might just be the catalyst for an initial conversation.
Some have suggested that advisors explore partnerships with social media influencers and serve as financial professional “guests” to occasionally share tips on budgeting, home-buying, retirement planning and general financial topics. Carefully vett influencers to ensure they are reputable and align professionally with your values, however, as such an alliance could backfire. Again, ensure compliance is on board and that you prepare any comments in advance to stay on track.
Due to some struggling to make ends meet, Millennials and Gen Z investors may be more risk averse than some previously thought. A takeaway for advisors is that they may need to adjust their approach to investing strategies for younger generations. While conversations surrounding budgets and diversification remain appropriate, a greater emphasis on loss protection may be in order. Included in that strategy is a product that is often associated with clients of an older generation: annuities.
Educating younger clients about various types of annuities and dispelling common annuity myths can help them make informed decisions and know all their options. However, there may also be misconceptions among some financial professionals that need to be resolved; mainly that annuities are often best suited for seniors or those nearing retirement. Overlooking annuities for young investors may be shortsighted and lead to missed opportunities for both the advisor and their clients. Consider conversations surrounding loss protection and the role that annuities may play in helping them reach their retirement goals.
Also be sure to access our Acceleration resources which include tips for setting a social strategy, getting client referrals, maximizing client relationships and more. Simply click below. For further help on ways to position annuities as part of your clients’ strategic financial plans, reach out to your CUNA Mutual Group wholesaler at 877.345.GROW (4769), option 1.
1Pew Research Center, Most in the U.S. say young adults today face more challenges than their parents’ generation in some key areas, Feb. 28, 2022.
2Deloitte, The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z & Millennial Survey, 2022.