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Are You Overlooking Prospective Clients?

Millennial clientsThere is a huge opportunity that most practitioners are ignoring, or worse, dismissing: an untapped client base.

This population doesn’t fit the profile of the typical client. They aren’t in their early 60s, near retirement and don’t fit the typical client profile. They haven’t worked and earned and leaned on you to help them make it to the retirement “finish line,” where they’ll begin to really enjoy the fruits of their labor. In fact, perhaps to the chagrin or confusion of their baby boomer parents, they’re quite different.

As you may have guessed, I’m talking about millennials. Before you tune out, consider the following:

  • An estimated $30 trillion in wealth in the United States will be shifting from one generation to the next over the next 30 to 40 years, according to a recent Accenture study.
  • By 2020, millennials are projected to be the largest client group by population, according to a Deloitte study, and will see significant increases in wealth as they enter their prime earning years and begin to receive inheritances from their baby boomer parents.
  • While their level of assets may not put them on your radar now, many are high earners or entrepreneurs who have complex planning needs and are willing to pay for expertise.

If you’re not serving this generation, now is the time to incorporate them into your prospective client profile. Early adoption of business models that effectively serve millennials will enable you to protect your market share and invest in the future growth of your business. 

Millennials put a high value on trust. By building trust early on and over time, you’ll be well positioned to serve them when they start to see significant growth in their wealth. Furthermore, from a business succession and employee retention perspective, your younger advisers want to work with their peers and have greater job satisfaction when given the opportunity to serve fellow millennials.

Ready to get started? Let’s look at three simple steps to tap into this client base.

Step 1: Understand what motivates them.

Millennials typically don’t consider money as the sole factor of success, seeking work that enriches the lives of others, provides personal satisfaction and supports a lifestyle that may look different than your typical boomer client – favoring experiences over material wealth. Over the course of their lives, they are likely to have many different jobs and may ditch the notion of a traditional retirement for mini retirements or sabbaticals throughout their career. According to a Deloitte study on millennials in developed countries, more than half want to start their own business, and more than a quarter are already self-employed.

Step 2: Identify how you can help them achieve their goals.

With longer life expectancies, massive transfers in intergenerational wealth, high levels of student debt and the entrepreneurial tendencies of this generation, the need for objective and personalized advice to navigate all aspects of millennials’ personal financial lives is critical. High earners who may not have amassed significant personal wealth yet are willing to engage with professionals to help them meet their financial and life goals.

Shift your focus to address their more immediate goals (paying down debt, saving for a down payment or other milestones), recognizing that millennials are less willing to defer their lives for a distant, uncertain future. Helping them articulate life goals – not limited to purely financial goals – is an important first step in partnering with them.

Step 3: Collaborate and consult.

Warning: Traditional financial planning models and approaches don’t always fit when advising millennials. This generation has a unique outlook on work, life and retirement, requiring a different service model that incorporates technology, collaboration and financial life planning. Partner with millennial clients to provide a consultative experience that focuses on clarifying goals, imparting experiential wisdom instead of just knowledge, giving objective opinions, reliably implementing strategies and providing clarity to important decisions. You may find, as I have, that this approach is helpful in serving a broader base of prospective clients who share a similar philosophy and value set as their millennial counterparts.

If you want to dive deeper into what makes this generation tick and how to serve them, check out a Journal of Accountancy article and a recording from a webcast I presented last month on advising millennial clients. Additionally, the AICPA Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Section has resources to serve all your individual clients. The PFP Section is the premier provider of information, tools and guidance for practitioners who advise individuals and is an invaluable professional resource as you grow and develop your practice to meet the needs of your existing and future clients.

Mark Astrinos, CPA/PFS, CFP, RLP. As principal and founder of Libra Wealth in San Francisco, CA, Mark works with clients across the country to design the lives they want by integrating their financial resources and human capital. Drawing on his tax and business background as well as his training as a Registered Life Planner, he focuses not only on creating wealth, but finding a healthy balance between money and life

Millennial clients courtesy of Shutterstock.


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