repost­ed from: Plan­ner — AICPA Per­son­al Finan­cial Plan­ning Divi­sion Newslet­ter
March/April 2013, Vol­ume 29, Num­ber 2

When you ask baby boomers about Gen X and Gen Y, most will give you an exas­per­at­ed mono­logue on the chal­lenges of these gen­er­a­tions. You will hear phras­es such as “dis­re­spect­ful of author­i­ty,” “lack­ing a work eth­ic,” and “self-cen­tered.”

The first step to have a suc­cess­ful finan­cial plan­ning prac­tice that serves Gen X and Y is to drop the judg­ment and see the dif­fer­ences as some­thing real­ly pos­i­tive. For exam­ple, when Gen X and Y say they dis­re­spect author­i­ty, what they real­ly want to do is think for them­selves. As for lack­ing a work eth­ic, aren’t their con­cerns about work-life bal­ance? Most boomers could learn a thing or two here! Self-cen­tered? That’s sim­ply know­ing what you want, which is a good thing.

If you can get through this first hur­dle and see the pos­i­tives of these two gen­er­a­tions, the oppor­tu­ni­ties are enor­mous. Com­bined, Gen X and Y are 1¾ times as large a group as baby boomers and, in 15 states, most­ly in the South and Mid­west, they rep­re­sent more than 25% of the pop­u­la­tion. They also have more spend­ing pow­er than boomers. Here’s a snap­shot:

  • Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964): 76.7million
  • Gen X (born 1965 – 1976): 49.1 mil­lion
  • Gen Y (born 1977 – 2000): 77 mil­lion

Per­son­al­ly, I hap­pen to like Gen X and Y and find their approach refresh­ing. How­ev­er, as a boomer, I know I’m not the norm. In the rest of this arti­cle, I will try to give you a pos­i­tive and prof­itable approach to serv­ing Gen X and Y. Per­haps in the long run, you also will fall in love with them.

What Do Gen X & Y Want?

Gen X and Y want an empow­er­ing and engag­ing approach. They want to be lis­tened to, not spo­ken down to. They want to make their own deci­sions, not have you choose for them. If your cur­rent plan­ning approach is top down, con­sid­er tak­ing your expert hands off the wheel and let your clients dri­ve.

Gen X and Y want to be edu­cat­ed, but they aren’t going to take your advice because of your edu­ca­tion, cre­den­tials, and wis­dom. They have grown accus­tomed to their envi­ron­ment with access to lim­it­less infor­ma­tion from the Inter­net. Any­thing they want to know is only one click away.

Start by giv­ing them web resources you trust that will help guide them. Rather than los­ing con­trol, you will gain their trust.

Every CPA finan­cial planner’s approach will be dif­fer­ent. At our firm, we make sure we are a good fit for them and they are a good fit for us. We start every rela­tion­ship with edu­ca­tion and empow­er­ment, and believe our process, “The Pros­per­i­ty Expe­ri­ence®,” is a per­fect fit for this gen­er­a­tion. Before we begin, we give clients a set of resources, includ­ing the fol­low­ing:

  • Elec­tron­ic forms to pro­vide their finan­cial data
  • Inter­ac­tive tools to devel­op their goals and pri­or­i­ties
  • A list of Mack­ey Advi­sors’ core prin­ci­ples
  • A com­pre­hen­sive out­line of our process

Our first two ses­sions, which are in per­son or vir­tu­al, are focused on what they want. Lit­tle atten­tion is giv­en to finan­cial details oth­er than to clar­i­fy what infor­ma­tion they need to pro­vide to us. These ini­tial meet­ings illu­mi­nate their needs, wants, fears, val­ues, and goals.

Before the third meet­ing, clients have sev­er­al short-term goals to achieve, includ­ing enter­ing their own data into the finan­cial plan­ning soft­ware. After that is com­plet­ed, one of our advis­ers meets with them and walks through their assets, lia­bil­i­ties, and cash flow. There is no inter­nal review of their data; instead, they review and approve the infor­ma­tion.

The next sev­er­al ses­sions are about engag­ing them in deci­sion-mak­ing rel­a­tive to their plan that we are active­ly cre­at­ing togeth­er. Our process has each client define accept­able and ide­al goals. Rather than decid­ing what is best, the client does the hard work of choice in real time (in per­son or vir­tu­al) with a Mack­ey Advi­sors®’ plan­ner.

Here, clients real­ly get to see the trade­offs for them­selves. They are faced with ques­tions such as “Do I want the fan­cy car or do I want to fund my child’s col­lege edu­ca­tion?” It is all about choice.

When they craft a plan they like, we e‑mail an elec­tron­ic ver­sion. They can access their plan 24/7, make changes, and con­sid­er alter­na­tives at any time. Our engage­ment includes unlim­it­ed access to a plan­ner, via e‑mail, phone, or client por­tal, as well as semi-annu­al updates.

Find­ing Gen X & Y Clients

If your prac­tice has its roots in work­ing with boomers and old­er gen­er­a­tions, then you have some work to do to find younger clients, but don’t count on cur­rent clients—parents of Gen X and Y children—as a refer­ral source for your plan­ning ser­vices. Instead, Gen X and Y respect peer-to-peer rec­om­men­da­tions. After all, accord­ing to HubSpot.com, 90% of peo­ple believe brand rec­om­men­da­tions from friends.

Begin by look­ing in your com­mu­ni­ty to deter­mine the com­pa­nies that employ large num­bers of high poten­tials. A For­tune 1000 com­pa­ny, a large med­ical facil­i­ty, or large law firm are all good pos­si­bil­i­ties. Use LinkedIn and oth­er social net­works to get con­nect­ed in these com­mu­ni­ties. Seek venues to speak to these audi­ences in their office envi­ron­ments. Find local groups of young pro­fes­sion­als or attend indus­try con­fer­ences and meet them at these venues. Ask one or more social influ­encers in your tar­get com­mu­ni­ties for their input on your plan­ning process.

A key tip is to offer pay­ment terms rather than upfront pay­ment on your plan­ning ser­vices to allow younger clients to step into your ser­vices. Once you have your first Gen X and Y client, con­tin­ue to nur­ture the rela­tion­ship and encour­age refer­rals. Keep your web con­tent fresh, and give clients and prospects rea­sons to keep com­ing back to your site.

My expe­ri­ence is that Gen X and Y are loy­al clients ded­i­cat­ed to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Their pace and style is refresh­ing. Best of all, by start­ing with them when they are young, it is eas­i­er to help steer clear of big mis­takes that are hard to over­come lat­er. It often takes only small changes to make big dif­fer­ences in the rest of their lives; this makes serv­ing Gen X and Y very ful­fill­ing.