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Key elements to connect with Gen Y

When it comes to making a meaningful connection with Gen Y, McCrindle said there are four key elements that advisers should bear in mind.

When it comes to making a meaningful connection with Gen Y, McCrindle said there are four key elements that advisers should bear in mind.

They must keep things:

  • real
  • relevant
  • responsive
  • relational

Keep it real 

Gen Y is a cohort that has seen a lot of hype during their life to date; they’ve been advertised and marketed to more than any other generation and they know when something is inauthentic.

“That’s the quickest way to actually drive them away, is to be inauthentic,” Henry warned.

McCrindle agreed, noting the power of social media means Gen Y will open the door to their friends, whereas, they’ll block the door to an advertiser.

“So, if we can keep it real, if we can build that connection in a real way, almost as an adviser of trust rather than someone pushing something on them, then I think we’ll best engage,” McCrindle said.

Henry added it’s essential to identify with Gen Y and said advisers can do this by making their interactions with this group more informal.

“You need to understand how to speak their language without being uncool or trying to be too cool … if you turn up as a financial adviser in the pinstripe suit with the white shirt and a boring tie using language they don’t understand, I can tell you now you’ve got less than two minutes to make an impact. If you don’t make an impact in two minutes you’re gone,” she explained.

Keep it relevant 

It is imperative to not only communicate to Gen Y in ways that are relevant, but also utilise content that is relevant.

‘There’s no point in giving a scenario to a Gen Y who’s in their early 20s about retirement and security and [the] pension when they’re not at that point of interest. So, keep it relevant in terms of what we say and how we say it,’ McCrindle said.

However, he noted a potential challenge around keeping it relevant to Gen Ys is their ubiquitous trait of constantly questioning ‘why?’ and how this can impact upon their decision-making.

For example:

“Why should I?” “What’s the point?” “What’s the relevance?” “Why should I work here?” “What’s the benefit to me?” They are pretty empowered. They do have that shorter timeframe in which they make decisions or focus, and so we have to communicate within that framework, within that bandwidth of interest that they have,’ McCrindle said.

Also, when tailoring advice to better cater to the needs and objectives of Gen Y, Henry suggested to keep it simple and explain the ‘WIFM’ — what’s in it for me? — factor to them.

“Make sure it’s relevant — you know it’s why so many Gen Ys aren’t interested in life insurance and income protection insurance because nobody has actually explained to them that in the case of life insurance there’s an element called total and permanent disability.”

“So, you might not die, but you might injure yourself and never be able to work again. That enables you to maintain your standard of living and to provide for your healthcare if you end up say, for example, in a wheelchair. It’s that simple but they make it unnecessarily complex,” she said.

Keep it responsive 

As Gen Ys are going to move through more cycles and pathways of life than any other generation to date, advisers will need to be responsive to their changing needs and circumstances.

“Their financial needs will change more frequently than any other generation because their lives will change more frequently. It is about being responsive to the needs and connecting and re-connecting with them as we go,” McCrindle said.

In addition, Henry listed four factors to keep in mind, with the first and most important factor being to demonstrate interest in them.

“Number two: involve them in the process, so explain your product and what you have to offer but allow them to ask questions and answer their questions without patronising them.

“Number three: inspire them by showing them that what you have to offer actually is something really good,” she said.

The fourth factor is to explain things to them — Henry said Gen Y want to understand the ‘who, what, when and why’ in a much greater way than previous generations.

“Unfortunately, what happens is they [Gen Y] are seen as trying to be smart when the reality is they want to understand how what you have to offer is going to fit into their current lifestyle and plans, is it going to benefit them and how is it going to benefit them,” she elaborated.

Keep it relational 

An enduring factor in any relationship is the element of relating, an aspect that remains vital to any adviser’s connection with a client.

“We listen to people, we respond to people that we trust and that always has been and always will be key — it’s timeless in that sense,” McCrindle said.

“If we have that relationship of trust, if there’s that relationship of authenticity and that relationship is there, we understand them, we connect with them, we respect them, they’ll … stick with us in the long term, so keeping it relational is foundational and key,” McCrindle said.

Generational and gender diversity are also very important to have in a workplace. For a financial adviser’s practice, having the right balance could allow them to effectively reach out across their client base.

“In consumer psychology, we talk about a seven-year rule. That is, that we can connect very naturally with people about seven years older than us and about seven years younger than us,” McCrindle said.

Therefore, it’s important to have a mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y on a team, so they can connect more naturally with both colleagues and clients of the same generation.

“When our staffing mirrors the diversity of the population in gender, [generation and culture] … as well, then I think we really can connect with modern Australia and that’s obviously key,” McCrindle said.


Avril Henry

Director, Avril Henry Pty Ltd

“When they’re looking for things that they’re interested in, they pull information towards themselves through the internet and doing Google searches. When you push information towards them, they will only be interested if it’s something of interest to them.”

Mark McCrindle

Social Researcher, McCrindle Research

Social media is part of their life and it needs to be part of the arsenal of communication that we use but hopefully it’s just one part … Unless we have an online presence, then we don’t exist in their world.”

This document was prepared by and for Kaplan Education Pty Limited ABN 54 089 002 371. It contains information of a general nature only and is not intended to be used as advice on specific issues. Opinions expressed are subject to change. The information contained in this document is gathered from sources deemed reliable, and we have taken every care in preparing the document. We do not guarantee the document’s accuracy or completeness and Kaplan Education Pty Limited disclaims responsibility for any errors or omissions. Information contained in this document may not be used or reproduced without the written consent of Kaplan Education Pty Limited.

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