Young families with limited assets might not be the first thing that comes to mind for established financial advisors prospecting for new clients. But advisors with an eye toward the future are working to build a new generation of clients to continue growing their business long-term.
Wu Shuk Ping Joyce had only been in the profession a few years when, in 2010, she began working to better sustain her business over the long run by courting younger families. “We have to create a balanced clientele that comes from all walks of life and careers and occupations,” said Wu, a 12-year MDRT member from Hong Kong, China.
Young families can be a difficult market to reach, though, as they are typically more focused on generating wealth than they are on protecting it. So Wu started by attending community activities and joining organizations where she could meet younger families.
It was the referrals from existing clients, however, that brought her book of business up to where it is now: evenly split between younger and older families. “This is the best way to get referrals, because their parents are already clients,” Wu said, noting that those younger clients are also a good source for referring their friends.
Wu, who started her business in her 20s, said it can be a challenge to connect with younger clients — that’s why she plays the role of a “big sister” for them. “I will position myself like a friend,” she said, adding that maintaining relationships on social media is critical with younger clients.
Relating to young families through social media comes as second nature to Vanessa Carolina Narvaez, a three-year MDRT member from New York, New York. Narvaez is a self-described millennial who said she naturally shares her life with clients on the photography-based smartphone app Instagram.
“Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or National Siblings Day — I post pictures of me with my family, so people will see me and know me more than just through the client-advisor relationship,” she said. “So they’ll see me as an individual too.”
She advised taking “baby steps” with young clients and staying with them as their assets and financial needs grow. The dynamic of financial advisors working to attract young clients has changed since the pandemic, she said. More and more these days, the clients come to her.
“Prior to this outbreak, a great deal of individuals would give little time to putting their finances in order; however, that picture has totally changed,” she said.
Suddenly, young families were looking to buy insurance coverage to protect themselves financially if they lose a loved one to COVID-19, Narvaez said. Setting aside savings has also become a priority for younger families, she said.
“This pandemic impacted the lifestyle of families that had not planned for a situation like this; it found a lot of people with no emergency funds, some of whom experienced the loss of their jobs and in other cases of their business,” she said.
For those without the financial means to establish permanent life insurance, Narvaez advises that term life insurance is the first step toward protecting their loved ones. “I think that given the current situation, it’s become more of a necessity, and people are realizing how important it is,” she said.
Tristan Karl Robert Hartey tells a similar story about a wave of younger clients buying life insurance and income protection policies since the start of the pandemic.
“Income protection policies have become really big in some circles in the U.K.,” said Hartey, a six-year MDRT member from Chester, England. “A lot of advisors in the U.K. just don’t bother talking about the life insurance side — either they don’t know about it, or they just skip it because they don’t see the value in it.”
That’s good news for Hartey, who said life insurance has become one of the cornerstones of his business. “We’ve tripled our sales on life insurance,” he said, noting that the boom in sales has helped the company enjoy its most profitable year ever in 2020.
Hartey said he was already courting younger clients prior to the pandemic with the goal of protecting established clients’ generational wealth and getting their adult children to start investing sooner.
“We can help them earlier. Rather than waiting to the point where they think they need a financial advisor, they’ve already got it in place, and it’s always cheaper when you’re younger,” he said. “Then they started referring their friends, and it became a niche market.”
In addition to asking their older clients for an introduction to their adult children, Hartey said the company has made inroads to younger clients by offering family accounts that cover not only the client but all the members of their family. Those young families have brought even more business by referring Hartey to their friends, he said.
Another new dynamic that has developed since the pandemic is most younger clients who set up a meeting aren’t just shopping around, according to Hartey. “If they schedule a meeting these days, their mind is already made up.”
Hartey acknowledged that some in the profession are disinclined to seek business from younger clients because they think there is less to be gained from those who have not yet generated much wealth. But he wants to break the stigma that the industry is above working with clients of lesser means. “If you have them as clients for 30 years versus 10 years, you’re going to make more money, and it’s better for the client,” he said.
Meeting clients where they are
Financial advisors already had their work cut out for them when it came to attracting younger clients, but prospecting during the worldwide pandemic posed
a whole new set of challenges.
One thing that helped Narvaez was contacting her young clients to inquire about the status of their beneficiaries and whether they were up to date. This provided the opportunity to ask them about their mental and physical well-being, she said.
The effort resulted in video conference meetings, many of which were with young clients, she said. “I would have young moms meet with me when their kids were napping, so having the Zoom platform was ideal for holding meetings with people in that age group.”
The client reviews have led to new clients and also created opportunities for asset repositioning with existing clients. “Some want to take advantage of market participation, while others are moving into more conservative financial vehicles that can provide capital preservation,” Narvaez said. “There has been a great opportunity in retirement assets being rolled over due to job loss or retirement.”