Sorting through the filters of gender and generation
by Julie GenjacMs. Genjac is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC Member FINRA. Visit www.hartfordfunds.com
Financial professionals, are you struggling to find ways to connect with your clients?
My team at Hartford Funds and I recently conducted a study that examines how investors of different genders and generations want to receive financial advice and marketing materials. The most notable takeaway was that over half of respondents in the survey (52%) believe that men and women have different financial needs, but only 24% want to work with a financial professional who tailors advice based on gender.
While there’s been a lot of conversation in the financial services industry about gender’s role in finance, our study has reinforced one key sentiment when it comes to the financial professional and client relationship, and this is that investors want sound, personalized advice. I truly believe that the individualization of the conversation is paramount to a successful marketing strategy. I think that connecting with clients can be difficult when financial professionals focus on only high-level elements of their clients’ or prospects’ lives. What we all need is to be treated as individuals, educated, and connected to resources that speak to our own situations.
For financial professionals looking to connect with clients more deeply, consider the following:
Get Specific. You may find yourself wondering where to start. To create a tailored marketing strategy that will help you better connect with clients, I suggest as a first step to pick a theme or a specific group. Some examples of this are women who have had a C in their title, women who are attorneys, or women who own businesses. By doing this, you have already narrowed down a distinct set of clients and can focus on specific areas of interest.
Next, work to speak the language of these particular clients. Immerse yourself in what your clients in these groups might read and research what their top stressors are and where they spend most of their time. By making yourself a subject matter expert, you will be able to better connect with your clients and build a trusting relationship.
For example, I have had a team of financial professionals tell me that they wanted to focus on female physicians in one specific hospital in their city. They had two clients there and asked them “what should we read to help us understand your perspective better?” The clients gladly provided the names of a medical journal, blogs, and a podcast. Not only did this help the financial professionals speak the language more genuinely and with more empathy, but it made those clients feel as if they were in the right place. It was a refreshing reminder that their financial professional team was taking the time to learn more about them and their situation and understanding them as individuals.
Lastly, find out what is of most importance to these clients when it comes to financial planning. Though 46% of respondents of our survey indicated that men and women should receive the same educational material on financial topics, the respondents also feel that men and women have different needs on topics such as career considerations (60%), long-term care planning (56%), and budgeting (55%). Understanding what the top concerns are for women can help you to modify your plans and incorporate the focus areas above (and more) to benefit them specifically. Now you have a different version of your plan. Not just one, generic plan, but something specific, helpful, and concrete. This approach has proved to be successful, but it takes a commitment and focus.
Consider The Generations
Our study also showed that when it comes to receiving marketing or prospecting materials, both younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) * and older generations (Gen X and baby boomers) rank email as their top choice (27% for younger generations vs. 32% older generations). Beyond that, the desired mediums for receiving materials ranked differently for those of different generations.
Use the statistics about how each generation prefers to receive information to your advantage and tailor your plan accordingly. Think about the last ‘one size fits all’ piece of clothing you purchased. It probably fit terribly, felt uncomfortable, was large in all the wrong places, and tight in others. It literally did not work for you, and you may have even wished you did not purchase it.
One size fits all marketing feels similar. Not attractive, generic, and like a waste of time. If you think of what the respondents told us in the survey, the breakdown of how they like to receive marketing is as follows: Email (31%), website (20%), and printed brochure (16%) – for both men and women. In addition, after email and website, younger generations significantly prefer to receive marketing content on social media (23% vs. 4%) and lean away from printed brochures more than older generations (5% vs. 21%). None of those statistics probably come to us as a surprise given what we know about each generation, but could these insights help you focus your marketing strategy going forward? Rather than having one, set-in-stone approach, consider using different strategies when it comes to marketing for clients of different generations. For example, maybe you can take the content that is currently in your printed brochures and create similar social media posts that will attract those of younger generations. Use this data to your advantage to help you speak to the target audience you are looking to speak to in a more efficient and effective, and most important, individualized manner.
Reflect On Your Own Experience
I believe that financial professionals have the opportunity to reflect on their (and their team’s) expertise and experiences and should believe that the power of story is real.
If you are comfortable sharing details about yourself and stories from your own experience, one bit of advice that I would offer is to be specific. First, think about yourself. What is your relationship status, the gender with which you identify, your home ownership status, stage of life, construct of your family, etc.? One could assume many things about you on the surface if they didn’t have the opportunity to engage in a personalized conversation.
Now think about all the nuances that could be missed about your life if assumptions are made about your goals, future, needs, vision, and so on. Based on many of our facts on paper, we are completely different people than our facts in reality. Keep this in mind when you are working on building relationships with clients and take the time to get to know them personally. Trust me, it will make a difference.
Then, reflect on particular situations that you have experienced or are currently experiencing in your life. Perhaps you are a financial professional who unexpectedly lost their spouse or partner, who started and sold a business, who lost a child, or cared for a parent with Alzheimer’s for a decade. There are so many life experiences to be had and so many people, both men and women, who can relate. Are you tapping into the human experiences of you and your team members to connect with clients on a deeper level? By doing this, you may find that you can offer new pieces of advice that you wouldn’t have even known to discuss if you hadn’t shared your story. Sharing personal stories to connect with others in similar situations can be more beneficial to a financial professional-client relationship than you may think, and you will likely build a stronger relationship by doing so.
To summarize, it’s time to get specific on which clients you want to attract and make your approach personalized, individualized, and consistent. If we think about the web of life, the basic features of any of us don’t even begin to touch the tip of the iceberg as to our true needs, goals, visions, desires, and need for planning. Keep this in mind when you are setting out to connect with clients and creating marketing plans. Taking the time to get to know them and learning about their individual needs and wants will make for a more rewarding experience for both you and your clients.
*“Younger generations” refers to Gen Z (ages 18-24) and millennials (ages 25-40). “Older generations” refers to Gen X (ages 41-56) and baby boomers (ages 57-75).