We’ve all been there before: you’re young, maybe you just graduated, maybe this is your first job out of college. In many cases, you’re younger than the clients you’re advising. For many financial advisors just starting out, age is more than just a number, it’s a potential roadblock when it comes to connecting with older clients.
When it comes to clients’ assessment of financial advisors, there seems to be an age bias, or at the very least, a perceived notion that young advisors don’t have the skills or knowledge to handle the accounts of older clients. Similarly, many clients feel anxious about the lack of work experience of younger advisors who simply don’t have the same amount of time in the industry as their older counterparts.
So, how can young, new financial advisors overcome age bias and gain credibility when working with older clients? It all comes down to confidence and competence. Here are six tips that can help you get back on an equal footing with older customers.
Dress the Part
I once read a story where an FBI Behavioral Analyst was able spot when a sharp dressed, well groomed, well-spoken businessman was “faking it.” The giveaway? A cheap wallet. Anyone who’s serious about their clothes and shoes isn’t going to skimp on a cheap wallet. You see, it’s the details that make the difference.
It’s a similar comparison for new financial advisors just starting out. You have to dress the part. You have to dress for the job that you want and the type of clientele that you want to attract. Now is the time to take a look in the mirror. Do you need to take your wardrobe and look to the next level?
Now, I’m not saying that you have to buy a few $3,000 suits and wingtip shoes. But, maybe it’s time to trade in the polo and khaki pants for a few, nice suits from the department store.
It’s all about first impressions with potential clients. If you want people to take you seriously as a financial advisor, you have to set yourself up for success. And, first impressions matter. Dressing the part of a financial advisor will also give you confidence, which is what helps young advisors overcome the age bias and potential stigmas that clients often bring to the table.
Continue to Learn
Looking the part is only one component when it comes to your success- you have to be knowledgeable too. If you want to make up for your youth, you may want to beef up on your knowledge. You’ll gain confidence by continuing your education and your increased understanding of the profession will translate into better, well-informed pitches and presentations to your prospective clients. You’ll be able to talk intelligently about the problems they’re facing and have solutions to help solve those problems. Increasing your knowledge might mean earning your CFP or even post-CFP designations such as CLU or ChFC.
Knowing your profession allows you to talk confidently with clients. And, having designations will validate your knowledge and strengthen your position with prospects and clients.
Work with Younger Clientele
If you’re a young financial advisor having trouble relating to older clients, you might find it easier to develop new prospective clients in a younger demographic like yourself.
Younger Americans (Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y) are a set of the population that financial advisors have often underserved. Since the financial crisis of 2008, younger clients have typically turned elsewhere for their financial advice. And, the lack of proper financial planning shows with their minimal of savings, investing, and retirement planning.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, only 14 percent of Millennials turned to a financial advisor when they were in need financial advice. Whereas, the survey found that 40 percent of non-Millennials sought out a financial advisor. Millennials have preferred to turn to blogs, podcasts, friends, and family instead for their financial-related insights.
The younger demographic is often overlooked by financial advisors in favor of more established clients with larger portfolios and more diverse financial issues that need our help. But, if you’re just starting out, focusing on younger clients can help you gain experience and build lifelong relationships with customers.
Don’t Meet Face-to-Face
If you’re young, just starting out, and feeling bias from clients because of your youth, you might consider focusing on some non-traditional customer acquisition skills. Maybe initially meeting face-to-face with clients hasn’t been working well for you. What about generating leads through other business development ideas such as cold calling, email or internet marketing?
It may seem a little counter-intuitive at first. Meeting with clients in person is a large part of financial advising, and eventually, it will have to take place. But, that doesn’t mean the client meeting has to be your first interaction. Not meeting face to face, in the beginning, is a way to get past your age difference and establish yourself as a knowledgeable and trusted advisor.
Practice Public Speaking
One reason young financial advisors struggle with older clients, is their lack of communication skills. It’s not that you don’t have good communication skills, it’s just that you haven’t practiced them enough.
There are several venues that can help you refine your public speaking and communication skills. You might want to consider joining Toastmasters International, which is an organization of local clubs whose members meet regularly to practice giving speeches and gaining feedback from one another. It’s a way to practice your public speaking and hone your skills in a supportive atmosphere.
Another option is to start a channel on YouTube. While there’s typically no in-person audience and limited feedback, you’ll gain a lot of practice presenting ideas and providing explanations of financial concepts by creating videos for YouTube. It can also be another way to reach new clients.
Find a Mentor
You don’t have to be good at everything as a young financial advisor just starting out. Working with and relating to clients who are older than you, is a skill that you have to develop. The good news is, you don’t have to go it alone. Finding a mentor to help give you advice can be invaluable.
Use your youthfulness to your advantage. Win your clients’ admiration with your energy and enthusiasm. At the end of the day, business development is about confidence. By knowing your trade, providing great service and genuinely caring about your clients, you can overcome any age bias you encounter.
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