Catering client experience to different generations

April 26, 2017 by Alex Becker

A close-up of an advisor talking to a client who has expectations of the client experience

About the author

Alex Becker

Software developer in test

Alex began his career at Advicent as a partner support specialist and later moved into quality assurance, allowing him to utilize the insights he gained from partners to further improve Advicent products. Additionally, Alex constantly strives to stay up-to-date on current topics within the FinTech industry.

As a Millennial, I have recently started to utilize the services of a financial professional. This journey is one that many Millennials will take, and each experience will be different. Some may be curious about their finances – refinancing student loans, net worth, cash flow, etc. – and go out searching the web. Others may want to find an advisor to open their first investment account or IRA.

I was lucky enough to receive some extra money my parents had saved for my education. Regardless of the starting point, this is the beginning of a journey and a relationship that defines the client experience.

Ensuring that a client has a positive experience is quickly becoming the primary goal of all organizations as they recognize retention benefits, but also increased growth. So, what exactly is client experience and how can you make sure that your client’s experience stays positive?  

Client experience is defined as all interactions between an organization and client. In order to make sure that the client experience is positive, one must always exceed the client’s expectations. This becomes increasingly difficult considering that each generation has their own definition of a positive client experience.

Attention to client experience does not even touch on the rapidly changing technology sector increasing the speed at which the continuum of client experience changes. So, how does a financial advisor manage client experience and ensure that every interaction with their client is positive? By understanding each client’s expectations in regards to a positive client experience. However, these expectations differ from generation to generation.

Differences in expectations of client experience between generations

The Silent Generation, or people born earlier than 1945, still has the Great Depression fresh in their minds and, because of this, work hard and save their money. Ultimately, this is great for financial advisors. Since most in this generation are retired, they will be the ones passing on wealth; so relationships with this generation are important.

In terms of technology, the Silent Generation was lucky to have a phone and television while growing up, which means almost all business was face-to-face. As such, when dealing with an organization, the Silent Generation is more comfortable and more likely to deal with an actual person than a self-service experience. For a financial advisor, this means always going out of the way to talk to a person in this generation face-to-face or by phone in order to provide a client experience that is on par with the Silent Generation’s expectations.

Baby Boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964. Boomers are an incredibly hard-working generation, arguably even more than the Silent Generation. Boomers are the creators of the 50-hour workweek and are never satisfied until they are the best in their discipline.

In terms of technology, Boomers have lived through the full technological explosion of the last 50 years or so. Thus, some are comfortable with using communication channels outside telephone or face-to-face. However, financial advisors should clarify which channels of communication are preferable. To foster a positive client experience with baby boomers, keep it simple in conversation and do not bog them down with unnecessary details.

Generation X is comprised of people born between 1965 and 1979. This generation grew up with very different circumstances than their parents the baby boomers. The prosperity their parents experienced was no longer there, as Gen X have witnessed multiple recessions in their lifetime. This caused Gen X to act more like the Silent Generation when dealing with money. They are cautious with their money and look to save as much as possible. In terms of technological skill, Gen X is much more adept than their parents.  In order for an advisor to create a positive client experience, they must show their value to Gen X client. Not only value, but also be transparent as to where the value is. As honesty, though important to all generations, maybe most important to Gen X.

The Millennial cohort is generally considered to be comprised of individuals born between 1980 and the mid-1990s. This generation grew up with, and adapted to, technology and they embrace it. This love for technology enhances the need to expect little-to-no wait for anything, as well as the ability to find answers themselves. They also have used technology to collaborate. For financial advisors, this means harnessing technology in order to help facilitate collaboration with clients. Creating a unique experience for each Millennial client is key. However, an advisor must be careful. As a generation, they are capable of utilizing technology and potentially harming a company’s brand if they have an unpleasant experience. This makes creating a positive client experience much more important.

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