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How To Attract Gen X and Gen Y With College Planning

Attracting, delighting, and retaining loyal clients is at the heart of every business owner’s philosophy. The big question then becomes how can you actually bring that vision to life?

Of course, there are many ways to get a client’s attention, but a challenge that many advisors face is attracting the right clients for their business to thrive. Sometimes the right clients are standing in front of you, in plain sight, but you just need a strong way to connect with them. 

One way to connect with potential and current clients is through college planning. College planning is on the minds of so many existing and future clients, that tapping into that need can give you a sustainable client base to serve for generations to come. 

Let’s take a look at how to attract these clients, particularly Gen. X and Gen. Y with college planning. 

College is expensive, so what can we do about it?

According to a Gallup survey 73% of parents with children under the age of 18 worries more about funding college than any other financial concern. What’s more, is that concern outweighed the amount that other people worried about any other financial concern. 

So a parent’s worry over college funding outweighs fears of not having enough for retirement, lifestyle inflation, investments, not having enough saved, and general money management. 

The bottom line: college is expensive and people don’t know what to do about it.

This is where you come in.

College planning is the top financial concern of Gen X parents. Gen X was born between 1965-1979 and is currently between 40-54 years old. This generation makes up over 82 million people in the United States. Over the next decade, these folks will be in their peak earning years and planning for education expenses. 

Why is this important for you?

Cerulli and Associates report, “The Great Wealth Transfer” estimates that Gen Xers stand to inherit $32 trillion from their boomer parents over the next 25 years and will be the wealthiest generation in our history. 

So, if you are a younger advisor looking to grow your client community over the next 5 to 10 years and you build meaningful relationships with your Gen X clients, you will naturally bring those inherited dollars under your care.

Take inventory of your client base and tap into new needs

Two-thirds of younger investors fire their parents’ financial advisor. This is huge! So it becomes important to take a look at your existing client base and work to leverage those relationships while also offering services that not only cater to them but give you room to expand to their family members. 

If you have an aging client base you face a couple of significant challenges.

  • An increasing number of clients distributing assets to fund retirement and healthcare
  • When your client passes away, 67% of the time, the entire family relationship will leave your firm 

These problems persist not only at the individual advisor level but also at the institutional level. The average age of an advisor is over 50, and less than 25% of advisors are under the age of 40. 

Many advisors that have an aging client base are also older and ready to slow down themselves. They may still service their existing clients, but they are probably not aggressively hunting for new client relationships.  

And who can blame them?  

Looking at this from the enterprise level, if you have to go get two new clients for every client that passes away it will be extremely difficult to grow. You will be treading water and throwing exorbitant marketing dollars at the problem to try and keep up.

So how can an advisor and a firm reach the next generation of investors?

Discover and adapt your firm to match market demand

An advisor firm needs to be able to adapt to the needs of future generations and that starts with developing honest, meaningful relationships with them. 

You need a compelling and genuine reason to ask your clients to meet their kids and grandkids. Telling them that you would like to meet their kids so the firm can retain your assets when they die is not exactly a great approach.  

Nearly every parent that we meet with has some expectation that Grandpa and Grandma plan to help with paying for college, but seldom do they actually know what that looks like. Bringing the generations together to have a family discussion on making a smart college choice adds tremendous value for everyone involved.  

You can take this on yourself and learn the ins and outs of college funding. Or you can anoint your young and hungry junior advisor as a college funding expert.   

Picture this, you have a 30 something advisor that is eager to learn and make a meaningful contribution to the practice. They are also able to relate to the college-bound student and their parents. Forget about your minimums and consider the investments they may have as part of the family relationship. This is a client retention strategy long term, but bringing in a 500K account isn’t anything to scoff at either! 

The bottom line

Adaptability is crucial for success, but in financial planning, it takes so much more than that. Our profession is built on cultivating, nurturing, and fostering client relationships and the best way to do that is being honest, genuine, and meeting them where they are at. 

It is always important to adapt and address clients’ unique needs and based on the research above, college planning is a big part of that conversation. 

Ready to jumpstart the college planning arm of your practice but aren’t sure where to start? Book a demo for our software that empowers advisors to get started and find success in the college planning space.

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