Generational Transition: Are You Ready For It?

How Financial Professionals Need To Adapt To The Evolving Marketplace

Supporting clients’ planning now so they can secure their future. In a nutshell, that’s what we financial professionals do. But whom we do it for continues to evolve. Are we keeping up with how the marketplace is changing?

A Generational Transition
Numbers don’t lie. Industry data shows that Gen Xers’ net worth is set to triple to $37 trillion by 2030. And as for the next generation, $30 trillion will be transferred from baby boomers to millennials in the next few decades. Thanks to census data we can predict that millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. There currently is and will continue to be investment power in those generations. But who is servicing them?
Studies show less than half of next-generation investors currently work with financial professionals. Surveys found only 30 percent of Gen X investors and only 22 percent of millennials are reliant on financial professionals. Experts argue that more than two in every five next-generation clients want to work with someone who is within 10 years of their age. It’s pivotal for us brokers to learn what the next generational needs are to be able to get ahead of the curve and respond to them quickly. Here are some considerations for brokers to ponder as they build strategies to tap into the younger markets.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Recent national events have brought the equity conversation to the top of business priorities. Making workplaces more diverse and inclusive is an important mission for the upcoming workforce. Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S. history, with 44 percent of them identifying as a minority. This is the generation that will take over three-fourths of the workforce in just a few years!

We all want to connect with others who think and behave the way we do, who value what we value, and with whom we can easily identify. Representation matters for this generation. Beyond race, diversity expressed in gender, culture, stage of life, thought and even hobbies can help brokers find common ground with millennials. Having a diverse mentality, backed by resources that reflect the diversity of the marketplace, will help brokers connect with this generation.

COVID-19 and Technology
A virtual sales process is important for long term success. This trend we have seen over the past two decades was rapidly accelerated by COVID-19. But even before the global push to the remote work environment, and despite a global pandemic keeping us all inside, we live in a world where you can go online, buy what you want in seconds, and have it delivered to your door the very next day, or even hours later! LIMRA data shows more than half of millennials are looking for financial professionals, and 46 percent will turn to social media to find one. What does your social media presence look like? Do you have an online strategy? Getting to a place where brokers can confidently provide positive answers to this question is important now more than ever.

A few small practices to get started can include sharing thought leadership content on social media, adding in your caption your own perspective and asking a question for engagement. Tagging peers to encourage a response can also help with that. Use hashtags that can tie your content to similar ideas, so that your posts may pop up when someone searches for those keywords. Build a library of content made available online for free and use it strategically to drive conversations that are timely and thorough through serial or topical posting. These are just a few ideas. Resourcing a social media strategy consultant can also be highly beneficial.

Millennials and Gen Z clients have grown up with these technologies. They expect to have a relaxed and convenient customer experience from the get-go. They are wired to adapt to the newest next thing, and they do this with ease constantly. The more comfortable brokers are with having an online presence and providing services virtually, the more likely we are to succeed in adding younger generations to our books of business.

Education and Misinformation
Within a decade, millennials are likely to represent half of any broker’s client purse and Gen Xers will comprise one-fourth. These generations have access to more information than they need at their fingertips. They have options, and they will study them online. This easy access to information can, in turn, become quite overwhelming and lead to misinformation. Brokers can easily bring value to these groups with our industry knowledge and experience.

According to a 2020 survey by LIMRA, 40 percent of people who own life insurance wish they had purchased policies at a younger age. Yet, more than half of millennials (52 percent) believe they wouldn’t qualify for life insurance. The same survey found half of millennials believe the estimated yearly cost for a $250,000 level-term life insurance policy for a healthy 30-year-old is $1,000 or more. The investment is closer to $160 per year. This generation presents brokers with the opportunity to become trusted resources of industry knowledge that can speak the truth to any financial misconception.

Beyond social media and online meeting capabilities, the next generation of clients are looking for financial professionals who understand the bottom line. No matter how or where you meet prospects, relationships with them can’t be merely transactional; they must be intentional.

The next generations value providers who make them feel seen, heard and understood. Younger clients will see more value in how well you respond to their concerns and needs than in the quality or quantity of the products you are offering.

Authenticity and intentionality can’t be fabricated. When brokers pretend to be something they’re not, millennials can see right through it. Younger investors expect brokers to show up as their authentic selves and be transparent about who they are, where they come from, and why they want to help clients. Even if that means admitting to technological or generational challenges. The key to our success as financial professionals is in letting prospective clients see our deeply rooted desire to build a relationship with them, whether we can help them achieve their financial goals through our products and services or not.

A Relationship Strategy
The next generation of investors wants to be in relationships with professionals in a similar path as they are. They want to work with someone who understands how quickly their lives change, what’s important to them through every change and how their goals evolve over time. The younger generations are calling out for someone who can genuinely relate to them.

What we’re selling is not a one-and-done deal. Brokers need to commit to a relationship, to support clients through their financial ups and downs for years to come. From checking in on them consistently through digital media to sometimes calling them to just chat about life for a bit, these will be their expectations. We need to commit to becoming their trusted friend, the one they come to for guidance on anything financial. We need to be the one they recommend to others when financial needs come up in a conversation, verbally or on social media. Accessibility, relatability and authenticity need to become priorities in your business strategy.

The Bottom Line
Adapting to the next generation of investors may come easier to some than others. Taking a hard look at our practice and being honest about our challenges is a good place to start. Brokers need to be intentional in keeping up with generational data and studying the new marketplace. The flexibility and adaptability the younger investors demand are skills we can develop. The more we practice them, the easier it will become to stay nimble.

To build authenticity in our approach, brokers need to surround themselves with a multigenerational team. If we hire support staff, we need to consider candidates who look, think, buy and behave differently than us. We must deliberately learn from them. Build relationships with brokers from younger generations who can help us stay on top of the technology and whatever is making a buzz in the marketplace. An important consideration could be investing in our social media strategy, whether that’s consulting with an influential firm to build our presence, or learning to manage our online branding and accessibility through training and professional development.

My advice to you is this: Be willing and ready to meet clients where they are, whether that’s at the coffee shop or in the latest social media webinar. Build trust with younger prospects by being vulnerable and transparent in your relationship-building. And whether prospects decide to invest with you or not, always give a stellar customer experience. Refer them to other services they might need. Feed them with industry knowledge to inform their decisions. Nurture your millennial and Gen-Z book of business now, so that you may become the trusted financial professional they come to when they’re ready to invest. And who knows? Maybe you will slowly become the next best thing your younger clients can’t stop talking about online.

Provided content is for overview and informational purposes only and is not intended as tax, legal, fiduciary, or investment advice.

Kristin Blakeslee, national director of recruiting and agent development at OneAmerica, has more than 20 years of recruiting experience in the financial services industry. She has expertise in diversity recruiting.

Blakeslee can be contacted via email at