Deep dive on millennials
The differences between millennials and the generations that preceded them - Gen Xers and baby boomers - are legion. They are more educated and informed, but they also want to do things their own way, especially when it comes to investing. While they may question recommendations and not blindly follow them, they still need financial advice. How can we attract these clients and better serve their needs? First, by better understanding them.
Key facts to know
On a daily basis, Karine Précourt, Managing Director, Family Office for BMO Private Client Services, meets many people between the ages of 25 and 40 who are the children of older clients. Without wanting to generalize, over time she has identified several characteristics common to this age group. “We see that this generation has a very strong entrepreneurial spirit. Many want to start their own business, have their own business, or take over their parents’ business and develop it with a new model. Millennials also need to network; they usually don’t like to carry a project alone and are team players. They are also very active in social media and networking.”
Curious, eager to learn and interested in financial planning, this generation still wants to be guided through the flood of information available. “Education plays a key role in this respect, and they want to be able to rely on the expertise of a trusted professional,” says Karine Précourt. They are also aware that they will play an important role in the transfer of wealth and need support.
An important point is that the younger generations are more concerned about certain social issues than their elders, and this is reflected in their investment choices,” says Philippe d’Astous, professor in the Department of Finance at HEC Montréal. Karine Précourt confirms this. “Millennials are more inclined to choose their investments based on their values. They are sensitive to environmental factors, social acceptability and ESG principles. As professionals, we must be able to offer them an investment strategy in this sense.”
YOUNG CANADIANS ARE MORE LIKELY TO
CONSIDER RESPONSIBLE INVESTING
IN THEIR PORTFOLIO:
78% FOR 18-24 YEAR OLDS AND
66% FOR 25-34 YEAR OLDS.
YOUNG CANADIANS ARE MORE LIKELY TO
OWN DIGITAL ASSETS (BITCOIN,
ETHEREUM, ETC.) IN THEIR WALLET:
27% FOR 18-24 YEAR OLDS AND
21% FOR 25-34 YEAR OLDS.
Source: Environics Research for Fidelity (2022).
Adapt your approach
To capture this generation’s attention, you need to adapt your approach. “We offer one to two-minute podcasts on specific topics to pique their interest. Then we invite them to contact us as needed,” says Kevin Quach, CPA, tax and financial planner, vice president, business succession planning for TD Wealth Management. “It’s a strategy that works because it’s a trigger for initial contact.”
You also need to get to know them, identify their priorities and know what they care about. “Compared to their parents, they want to retire earlier because they value quality of life so much. Our job is to talk to them about that and come up with a strategy,” he adds.
“This generation wants to have fun, and happiness is a central concept for them. That’s why you need to get them talking about their dreams, the causes they care about, ask them what their plans are and suggest a plan to get there,” says Laurie Therrien, a financial planner with Therrien and Alain Financial Services. She emphasizes that listening and empathy are essential with millennials, who are often less optimistic about their future and sometimes anxious about financial decisions.
Alexandre Savoie-Bathurst, a financial security advisor at Planex Financial Solutions, notes that millennials are very independent and direct in their approach. “They start by looking for solutions on their own, on the Internet or through their network, and then come to us with a certain amount of information in hand. We must be able to put it all into perspective and explain to them that there is a lot of marketing in what they can read online.” He also notes that while this generation is relatively accustomed to investing in the stock market, they know little about the financial world and related areas such as insurance.
47% OF GEN Z AND
32% OF MILLENNIALS
WITH AN ADVISOR
ARE DOING SO AT THE RECOMMENDATION
OF A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER.
33% OF GEN Z
AND 22% OF MILLENNIALS REFER TO
FINANCIAL INFLUENCERS AND
SOCIAL MEDIA TO MAKE
THEIR INVESTMENT DECISIONS.
Source: BMO Annual Investment Survey, April 2022.
To attract this clientele, it is also necessary to offer them the opportunity to work with an advisor who looks like them, in other words, from the same generation as them. “When you’re in your thirties, you don’t necessarily want to work with an advisor who is close to retirement. And vice versa because the bias goes both ways,” says Alexandre Savoie-Bathurst. “To attract millennials, you have to offer them an advisor in the same age bracket,” confirms Laurie Therrien, who points out that one of her missions is to approach clients’ children. “The longevity of the firm depends on this: we have to get in touch with Gen Y and Z,” she says.
Kevin Quach says that discussing succession issues with parents is a good way to open dialogue and encourage them to bring their children to a future meeting. A second, younger advisor can be brought in to work as a team with his or her colleague.
At Planex Solutions, Alexandre Savoie-Bathurst and his father, Larry Bathurst, now retired, made the transition process work. “I met with my father to build trust with the clients. It also opened the door to find out if their children needed advice,” he explains.
Jean-Philippe Vézina, a financial planner and tax specialist with the Jean-Maurice Vézina consulting team, is also part of the equation when his father meets with his clients. “We conduct the meetings together. And when the kids are involved too, it clicks more naturally with me. They want investment advice, but not only that: they also want to be taken care of in terms of financial management and security.”
Élise Chartier, Senior Wealth Manager and Portfolio Manager at Desjardins Securities, who is actively involved with younger clients, believes that it is also important to learn to respect each person’s pace. “Some clients want to explain everything to their heirs, give them all the details of the estate, while others prefer to remain more discreet. We need to understand that and guide them in this communication with their children.”
Her father, Daniel Chartier, also a senior wealth manager and portfolio manager at Desjardins Securities, says that this generational transfer is not just about money. “To ensure longevity, you must also pass on knowledge.” This advice also applies to advisory teams. Weekly meetings, the sharing of success stories and solutions, as well as the active mentoring of Daniel Chartier, are the key to passing on skills from one generation to the next.
While there is no magic formula, trust, openness and knowledge sharing are certainly among the essential ingredients for success.