By JAMES COWAN
MW is one of the most valuable car brands in the world. Although the automaker originated more than a century ago, it has continued to innovate through the years. In fact, BMW recently unveiled its i Vision Dynamics, an all-electric sedan that puts the automaker at the forefront of technology and helps position the company for the future.
Similarly, Pontiac was once one of the top-selling brands in the United States. Unfortunately, its manufacturer was unable to devise a strategy to keep the brand on top. Pontiac struggled for an image ever since it was an enthusiast’s dream in the 1960s with the GTO. From then on, it lost its way as its manufacturer tried to graft onto mass-market cars. The Pontiac brand was discontinued in 2009.
As a forward-thinking financial professional, it’s fair to ask whether your current list of clients and prospects is positioning you for future success. In other words, is your client list like a well-established, innovative BMW? Or is it possible your client base is more like the ill-fated Pontiac, relying only on the prospects of today?
Here are four strategies to help keep your client list “tuned up,” addressing today’s needs as well as that of generations ahead.
1. Engage more with female prospects and recruits.
As you think about the future of your business, consider that over the next 35 years, women are due to inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfers, or approximately $28.7 trillion in assets. Additionally, women already control the majority of wealth in the U.S. and make approximately 80 percent of family household buying decisions, including those related to banking and financial services.
As an industry, we’re making an effort to connect with this influential population, both as potential clients and as potential advisors.
Proactive financial professionals are visibly intentional about engaging with female prospects. They are building bridges with professional organizations that focus on the needs of women, leveraging existing relationships and contacts to gain referrals, and arranging meetings and prospecting to female family members of existing clients.
It’s important to be transparent about your desire to partner with women and ensure your business — and your business mix — reflects our society and culture.
2. Make sure millennials are well-represented on your client and prospect lists.
Millennials are our country’s largest living generation. In 2016, there were an estimated 79.8 million millennials compared with 74.1 million baby boomers. And the force and influence of this population will only continue to grow.
This is your future customer base. Start identifying ways to gain the trust of this up-and-coming generation. The influence and sheer size of this generation make it a crucial group of potential clients to help fuel your BMW-like client list. Although millennials may be early in their earning years, many see the importance of saving for the future. Overall, 72 percent of millennials are finding ways to save for retirement and setting aside an average of 7 percent of their paychecks. Their resources and earning power will only increase over the next several years.
Additionally, millennials are 1.3 times more likely to turn to a financial advisor than Generation X or baby boomers. If you’re willing to invest the time, you will build your competencies in meeting the needs of a very influential demographic. For starters, you may want to consider offering to connect with and share “free” financial perspectives with the adult children of some of your current clients. Don’t forget to make sure you’ve established a credible online presence through your website and social media.
3. Grow your competencies with small-business owners.
Small-business owners represent a tremendous opportunity for financial advisors.
Small-business firms comprise about 98 percent of all U.S. employers and provide jobs to more than 40 million people, according to LIMRA research. New businesses are continuously being launched, and technology is breaking down former barriers to entry. Depending on your target market and expertise, it may be worthwhile to become more familiar with the business insurance products in your toolbox and take steps to connect with business owners. This is a strategy that could generate business not only today but also well into the future.
4. Recruit diverse advisors and colleagues.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the non-Hispanic white population is projected to drop from more than 60 percent of the U.S. population today to 40 percent by 2060. On the other hand, nonwhites will grow to 60 percent of our population, transforming the United States into a “majority-minority” nation over the next two to three decades. (In fact, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are already majority-minority states.)
Your business is more likely to grow well into the future if you expand your pool of prospects to include Hispanics and people of color and the changing demographics of your region. Financial professionals who are members of these groups — or who are familiar with these populations — can help you with referrals and with your agency’s efforts to better speak to the needs of groups underrepresented in our industry.
Positioning your business for future success is about staying abreast of demographic, psychographic and social trends that could impact populations and subgroups. Diverse recruiting and prospecting will be a must for advisors positioning themselves for the future and aspiring to be our industry’s version of the BMW. On the other hand, those advisors who resist change and ignore emerging population trends may want to take a lesson or two from Pontiac. Even if you’ve enjoyed years of success, nothing is guaranteed.
James Cowan is the director of Next Markets at Ohio National Financial Services. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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