Demographic changes are impacting the retirement landscape

Working with clients from the generation you identify with is only natural. But you shouldn’t let that bias box you in. If you limit yourself to working only with clients of one age group, you are missing opportunities to expand your business. Like an investment portfolio, a book of business should be diversified.

“Older advisors tend to work with people their own age,” says Sam Febbraro, executive vice president at Investment Planning Council in Toronto. “But there’s an entire segment of the market they could be missing out on.”

To make your practice “age proof” is to prevent it from becoming restricted to your age bias. You can take steps to make your practice more inclusive and attractive to people in various walks of life.

Start by getting to know the preferences of your clients and prospects through your interactions. Many clients, even younger ones, still prefer that face-to-face engagement, , Febbraro says, especially when discussing long-term goals. Some conversations can’t take place easily online.

Febbraro offers the following tips on how to build an age-proof practice:

> Deliver consistent service
While client segmentation is standard practice, Febbraro says, there should be some “basic building blocks” baked into your onboarding process. Every client needs an agenda, which outlines points such as fees, your investment philosophy and the performance reports they can expect to receive.

As part of the discovery process, Febbraro says, start by building the client’s personal wealth strategy. This plan will help inform your approach to managing the client’s needs.

> Be flexible
Offer your clients multiple avenues for staying in touch. Some clients may prefer meeting at your office or over coffee, while others may find it more convenient to do video conferencing, Febbraro says.

“A lot of advisors today are asking each client what mode of communication is best, and how often [you touch base],” he says.

> Hold family meetings
Don’t wait for the wealth transfer to begin before you start engaging with the next generation. Start learning about your clients’ children’s interests. You should take the relationship beyond a “transactional” exchange, toward a “true financial planning relationship,” Febbraro says.

Initiate those relationships by organizing meetings or family-friendly events, Febbraro says. Get to know clients’ families on a deeper level and learn about their charitable interests and hobbies.

> Establish an online presence
Your prospects’ first impressions of you are often made online, rather than in person, Febbraro says. And cold calling on its own is no longer an effective way to persuade potential clients to come in for a meeting.

Prospects are likely to follow up on that initial conversation with a little online digging to check out your website and to see if you’re active on social media. Without a sizable digital footprint, you can’t expect to attract new clients, much less the younger generation.

“Digitally savvy millennials live online,” Febbraro says. “They expect to get information on financial issues in much the same way.”

> Hire new blood
Having a successor shouldn’t be the only reason for hiring fresh talent, Febbraro says. Consider bringing in a younger advisor to help you reach and retain a new generation of clients.

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