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Finance / Money / Personal Finance

Generations tech: Talking to Gen X, millennial clients

Generations tech: Talking to Gen X, millennial clients

Technologically advanced and social media-connected financial advisors are what Gen X and millennial clients want.

So says a study from Global X, which found that strong technological capabilities would make it more likely for 93 percent of millennials and 71 percent of Gen X investors to work with an advisor.

Advisors have been successfully attracting this clientele by investing both time and money into tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, podcasts, blogs, YouTube, mobile portfolio access and modern uses for email.

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For Winnie Sun, managing director and founding partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners, Twitter has proved a tremendous method for connecting with current and potential clients. She is the weekly host of the largest female-led money tweet chat (public conversation) on Twitter, which reaches between 150 million and 435 million Twitter users per hour.

Having attained this level of success in less than two years, Sun gives a few tips on what she has done right:

  • Strategically analyzed the responses and who is enjoying the conversation.
  • Consistently continued to engage, and with the right people.
  • Shared some personal information to connect emotionally with followers.
  • Provided fresh news.
  • Publicly recognized and recirculated great tweets from participants.
  • Promoted her public appearances.

She consistently puts in about two hours per day on social media, likening it to a regular exercise program.

Sun has also racked up about 20,000 connections on LinkedIn, using the site to incubate leads and provide publicity for the firm. Several ultrahigh-net-worth clients have signed on specifically from this effort.

“They were attracted to us by our commonalities and background and by our post history, length and usefulness,” Sun said. “It’s nothing magical; it’s all about consistency.”

Similarly, Eric Roberge, certified financial planner and founder of Beyond Your Hammock, uses Twitter and LinkedIn to stay relevant within the industry, with potential referral partners and with the media.

“Social media is the key to keeping people engaged,” he said. “I’m speaking their language; for example, on managing their cash flow or how to save for a home and pay student loans at the same time.”

In addition to the usual Facebook presence, Roberge has recently begun using Facebook Live to broadcast his conference appearances to his followers and followers of other presenters. He appreciates that the videos can be saved and searched.

He uses his e-newsletter as a social media consolidator, including a section of repurposed social media content and a personalized note.

Roberge leverages technology to communicate with current and potential clients. His website offers an online scheduling app that allows people to click a button to make an appointment directly on Roberge’s schedule. “It puts them in charge,” he said.

He also provides clients mobile access to their accounts through his financial planning software, which uses his logo as the icon on their smartphones.

For his part, Ted Jenkin, CFP and co-CEO of Oxygen Financial, employs mainstream social media platforms and adds even more outlets for communication, including:

  • Podcasting: “Gen X/Y listen to much less traditional radio and love short educational podcasts,” he said. “Podcasts allow [them] to be educated on their own time and listen at the pace they want to listen.”
  • YouTube: “Videos under two minutes that have ‘edutainment’ — meaning they are part education and part entertainment — work best,” Jenkin said. “These don’t work with boring instructional videos.”
  • Streaming TV: Jenkin plans to produce short segments of financial content.
  • Blog: “Gen X/Y aren’t avid readers, so short 300- to 500-word blogs are great [and] give ‘snackable,’ bite-size information.”

Jenkin said that his firm’s multipronged strategy has resulted in 300-plus new clients last year and more than $100 million of new assets under management. The nine-year-old blog has 35,000 subscribers and has been the No. 1 strategy for attracting clients.

Jeff Rose, CFP and founder and CEO of Alliance Wealth Management, also has a highly successful blog, which generates about 650,000 unique views per month. It, too, has been the main source of the firm’s growth.

“The blog is our home base,” he said. “We drive everyone there. We want them to engage with us and opt into our email list, where we promote our webinars and courses and showcase our expertise.”

While email can be considered an old-school tool, Rose adapts it well to appeal to his Gen X and millennial clients. For example, he uses software from Bombbomb.com to send personalized video responses — embedded within an email — to clients, prospects and blog readers with questions.

In addition, he sends out a weekly email of portfolio reports to his clients to meet their desire for convenience, alerts, and aggregation of information.

Rose spends about 10 to 15 hours a week on his varied social media tactics. Which is the most effective? “It all depends on how the person prefers to digest information,” he said.

— By Deborah Nason, special to CNBC.com

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