Young clients represent a huge opportunity for financial advisors to assure the future growth of their practices. Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y), loosely defined as people born between 1978 and 1990, now account for more than one-third of the Canadian population.

Many of these young people have graduated from university and are embarking on careers. While some members of Gen Y are accumulating their own wealth, many stand to inherit the wealth of their baby-boomer parents, making them attractive prospects for advisors.

Attracting young clients is a “critically important area for the longevity of your practice,” says David Andrews, portfolio consultant with Franklin Templeton Investments in Toronto. However, marketing strategies that work with older clients might not work with Gen-Y clients, who have distinct traits.

“[Millennials] are shaped by technology and tend to be do-it-yourselfers,” says Andrews. “They expect a lot and probably want to pay less.”

Here are some tips for attracting Gen-Y clients:

> Know what they want
Millennials want engaging, transparent relationships. “You must be able to articulate your story in a way in which they want to receive it,” Andrews says. “They expect you to have a certain level of knowledge.”

But perhaps more important, you should be a facilitator or guide, as these clients prefer to make their own decisions. Consequently, you should be a good listener in order to determine how you can work with these clients.

Let the Gen-Y client drive the discussion, Andrews says, because they know what they want. Your role is to help them frame their goals.

And avoid “sales” talk, says Andrews: “Gen Ys are wary of salespeople.”

> Give your website some personality
When developing your website content, avoid the retirement-planning clichés, Andrews says.

“Have a website with personality,” he says. “No sailboats, no sunsets.”

When millennials go to your website, they are looking to “uncover things” and find hard information. Members of Gen Y spend a lot of time online and have short attention spans, so your content must be attention-grabbing, short and concise.

Provide credible information and note that millennials do their own online research and make comparisons. You can quickly lose their trust if you are not honest and transparent.

“[Millennials] have a fair bit of skepticism,” Andrews says. “Your website has to be real. They can smell if you’re phony.”

> Use technology to your advantage
Millennials are heavy users of social media, Andrews says. They are hooked on to a wide variety of online tools and mobile applications to acquire and share information and to stay on top of their financial affairs.

These young people prefer to complete electronic forms and use interactive tools to make decisions. So, Andrew says, you have to be “savvy in these areas.”

> Make use of young team members
Gen-Y clients are best served by advisors in their own age group who speak their language, Andrews says. He suggests pairing a Gen-Y advisor with a more experienced advisor if the situation warrants.

> Seek family introductions
Millennials often rely on recommendations from their friends. One way to get them into your fold is through introductions from existing clients who have Gen-Y children. You also can leverage your relationship with parents by involving clients’ Gen-Y children in estate-planning discussions.