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Youth outreach

Matt Pais

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Shay sees the benefit of hiring younger advisors to meet with millennial clients.
To which of these Facebook messages would you be more likely to respond?
  • “Hi. I’ve recently embarked on a career in financial services and would love the opportunity to get together and share with you what I’m doing and find out what it is that you’re doing.”
  • “Hi (insert your name here). I see that you’ve had a new baby. Congratulations! It’s such an exciting time, with so many things to think about and decide. I would love to meet with you and share with you what I do as a financial advisor.”

Clearly, the latter, personalized approach is more likely to catch a prospect’s attention than the generic, mass-mail style of the former. This is a lesson Angelia Z. Shay, CLU, ChFC, a 17-year MDRT member from Glen Allen, Virginia, passed along to a younger advisor she has taken on in her practice.

Because her business primarily deals with pre-retirees, retirees and small-business owners, Shay has recognized the value in having newer producers in place to work with her clients’ children. This way, her clients’ beneficiaries can have an established relationship with an advisor they can relate to, helping them with their own insurance needs and when it comes time to address their parents’ policies.

“I’m not the gray-haired, 60-year-old man,” said Shay, who will turn 50 in 2017, “but I could be the mother of my clients’ kids.”

There are several reasons why Shay has seen the benefit of hiring advisors to make connections with these younger clients:

Deeper connection and specialization. Shay used to hold open houses to get to know beneficiaries so she already was connected to family members when a death occurred and “it wasn’t an artificial meeting at a funeral,” she said. But younger advisors can relate better than Shay can; she’s more focused and passionate about retirement, which is not top of mind for many clients’ children who are still determining what they will do professionally.

Acting in the clients’ best interests. As an extension of the issue of passion, Shay recognized that while she cares about her clients’ kids, she likely would not be as excited about nor put as much effort into learning what she’d need to handle college planning or home purchase saving as she is toward retirement planning.

Time management. Because millennial clients are often more engaged, working with them can sometimes be more time-consuming as they do their own research and participate more extensively in discussions. For Shay, it is more efficient and economical to not handle these clients personally.

Multi-generational succession. Ideally, Shay wants to have one colleague for partnership and succession and two younger advisors who could potentially become partners as well. She first brought on a younger advisor to work with her clients’ kids about nine years ago and is still working to develop these office dynamics and confirm that she has the right people in place.

“I’m not the gray-haired, 60-year-old man, but I could be the mother of my clients’ kids.”

Of course, there are important things to keep in mind with this effort. For one, Shay said, set aside expectations and realize that not everyone will do things the way you did them. “My generation, we’re not going to text a marriage proposal,” she said, half-joking.

She has seen, in all seriousness, some younger advisors less used to dealing with significant conversations in person or on the phone struggle to make connections with prospects. The issue is not necessarily calling to set up the initial meeting; the difficulty is following through afterward to get beyond the first conversation and meet again to discuss more of the clients’ wants and needs.

What she has noticed is these young advisors sometimes spending the first meeting trying to connect clients to other people rather than to themselves. In one meeting, Shay saw a young advisor much more focused on recommending CPAs than identifying what he personally could bring to the client.

To counteract incidents like this, Shay has met with the two young advisors on her team weekly, helping them understand their struggles and how she can help. She makes sure not to run every conversation, instead taking time to observe how younger advisors operate in meetings with clients. And she works to put what she wants down on paper so her expectations are concrete and associates can feel part of an official process.

She also gets permission from her clients to have her associate advisors contact their kids to create a warm lead. She requests they give their kids a heads-up that this will be happening.

It is important for Shay, her business and the associate advisors that the newer producers sustain these clients and others on their own, and Shay expects to reduce her meetings with them to every other week. “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” she said. “You can’t do it all. “It’s like raising kids; eventually you have to come off of the milk.”

Angelia Shay

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