4 truths about millennials that might shock RIAs

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If you’re an RIA, you know the millennial generation is going to be a priority for the long-term success of your business. After all, according to CNNMoney, millennials already outnumber baby boomers – 87 million to 76 million, to be exact.

A nationwide debate has ensued as to whether millennials represent the greatest opportunity for RIAs, or if this hype is overblown. Either way, the fact remains this demographic will continue to infiltrate the world of financial services, and RIAs need to fully comprehend this generation’s defining characteristics as well as their financial preferences and needs.

Before you dig too deep into the rabbit hole, be aware of these four truths about the millennial generation that might surprise you – or at least alter your thought process as you get your millennial marketing efforts in gear.

1. Targeting this generation should not be treated as a one-and-done deal.

Treating the millennial generation as a collective group is a misguided notion. Millennials are at different stages of their financial lives – the generation as a whole spans over 16 years, ranging in age between 18 and 34, according to the Pew Research Center. You cannot paint them all with the same brush.

While those on the younger end of the spectrum may be preoccupied with applying for college or their first credit card, others on the older end may be shopping for their first home or setting up 529 savings plans for their children.

When trying to reach millennials, start by catering your marketing efforts to the varying age groups. Younger millennials might be more accessible through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, while older millennials may be more receptive to communications through LinkedIn or an email marketing campaign.

2. Millennials communicate in a variety of fashions.

Despite the cliché that millennials are purely digital-centric beings, a significant number still favor communicating with colleagues in person. According to this study by Bentley University, 51 percent of millennials prefer to communicate face-to-face.

Millennials love communicating through digital platforms, but that’s not to say RIAs should completely throw away their client-facing skill set. Advisers need to continually communicate with their younger clients through a blend of digital means and face-to-face meetings. Offering 24/7 online access to financial information as well as multiple avenues for your millennial clients to get in touch with you is a great place to start.

3. Talking with (not to) them will get you somewhere.

As this blog and countless media outlets have previously reported, younger generations largely distrust the financial services industry. After watching their parents suffer through the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, this comes as no surprise.

Because of their hesitance to fork over their hard-earned savings to a financial services professional, attracting a younger clientele may be difficult for RIAs. Rather than speaking about millennials’ money troubles or the mistakes they are making, advisers must build trust and credibility with this generation.

The best way to do this is through a strategic media relations campaign. When targeting millennials, go after media placements in online publications like Business Insider, Vox and other new-age outlets with millennial-based audiences. Seeing your firm’s name in the press not only spikes intrigue in your services, but also builds credibility and trustworthiness.

4. They actually understand the importance of saving money.

Despite stereotypes that millennials overspend and are unfamiliar with money management techniques, they are actually surpassing boomers in savings. According to this T. Rowe Price study, more millennials create financial budgets and stick to them.

When catering your RIA’s marketing campaign to attract the millennial generation, it’s important to keep in mind that this group’s habits and preferences differ greatly from their predecessors’ when it comes to managing money. A large portion of this demographic is looking for more technology and a limited time investment. Your marketing campaign should reflect that.

Whether you like it or not, today marks only the beginning of millennials’ infiltration of the financial advice industry. But don’t take a misguided approach to marketing and catering your services to the demographic. If you want to maximize your return on investment, take the time to truly learn about who they are and what they want.