Consider, for example, a 30-something Millennial who is finally making a decent salary. After her grandfather’s recent passing, she is surprised to learn that she’s been bequeathed a large inheritance. She wants to do something prudent with the money, but she’s not sure what. Should she plan for retirement? Park the funds with a wealth management firm? Buy a house?
The options are endless, and like many a Millennial before her facing a decision, the first action item is an internet search. The problem? Major financial services companies aren’t putting relevant content out there, and what she finds doesn’t seem to meet her needs. At one company’s landing page about inheritances, she’s turned off by the inaccessible language. The traditional marketing she gets from the industry, including TV ads, tend to focus on rates and investment options and don’t resonate with her lifestyle. Stymied by the big firms, she instead polls her social media network for a local recommendation. She chooses a small company with a reputation for its personal touch.
For large financial services firms, this is a big missed opportunity. As Baby Boomers retire and grow older, scenarios like the above will become more frequent.
CNBC reported that Baby Boomers, the “biggest and wealthiest generation in US. history,” will transfer about $30 trillion in assets to Generation X and Millennial children in the coming years. What’s more, studies show that most of these children will change financial advisers—meaning the big financial firms have a lot to lose once these assets are transferred.
Given the big money in play, you’d think financial firms would be farther along at attracting the Millennial set. But as many Millennials have already figured out, that’s not necessarily the case.
Part of the reason financial firms have been slow to respond to the coming wealth transfer is, well, financial. Firms lean on individuals with high net worth (aka Boomers) to pay the bills now, which makes expending resources on attracting lower-net-worth individuals (aka Millennials) less desirable, at least in the short term.
“There’s a perception in the industry that to be successful, you can only work with people who have at least $1 million in assets,” Peter Mallouk, CEO of Creative Planning, told CNBC. “But if you don’t work with the next generation, someone else will.”
As Baby Boomers pass down their wealth to younger generations, financial services firms will be under pressure to compete for this age group. But engaging with Millennials means rethinking how to deliver services and experiences, especially in the digital paradigm.
Enter content marketing. A well-planned content marketing strategy can help financial firms engage with digital native Millennials, reeling in the next generation of clients.
The problem for financial firms isn’t necessarily a lack of content. Rather, the issue is that these content resources aren’t tailored to Millennial audiences. The coming great wealth transfer calls for a content market strategy geared specifically toward the needs and wants of Millennials, speaking their language and providing content that educates and entertains on their schedules.
Schwab, for example, has a number of pages dedicated to “life events” (inheritance is one). But the language on the page seems a bit lofty. Schwab offers financial advisors that can help “assess your current assets and liabilities” and “adjust your long-term financial strategy” following a windfall. The language might be daunting to a Millennial who is only just now starting to accrue wealth through his career and has suddenly received an inheritance. Using language that meets him where he’s at in his financial journey would be a good start. Other digital access, like video, might be even better; throw in a bit of unexpected humor for some extra Millennial points.
Millennials aren’t a monolithic group, however. Women, men, married, single, kids, no kids—these are factors that shift what a Millennial is looking for in a financial adviser or firm, and the content marketing strategy should reflect these different audiences. Financial firms need to curate digital content that helps Millennials—in all their diversity—make informed financial decisions.
Social media should be a key part of this content strategy. According to DataMentors, affluent Millennials are twice as likely to use social platforms to learn about financial investments and decisions. Millennials are great givers and takers of advice, so content that’s easily shareable and digestible can earn Millennial attention and spark them to pass it on.
According to the American Marketing Association, 45 percent of Millennials are looking for resources to help them navigate a financial situation. Still, 37 percent say there are few online resources to help them become educated on financial topics. Financial firms need to fill this gap with great content that understands Millennial needs and wants.
Millennials will have a lot of financial choices to make one day soon. Firms need to make sure they’re speaking to them in the right way when that time comes.