30-something advice clients: A demographic ready for change

5 min read  
Date: 18 November 2016


For some time now, Baby Boomers might have been your most important financial advice clients. But it is time to develop a comprehensive offering for an emerging customer segment that you may have been overlooking until now: The 30-somethings.

The 30-something demographic is a really interesting one - it straddles the division between Gen X and Gen Y, and according to research the share of financial assets held by generations X and Y will grow significantly in the future – some say to as much as 70% by 2030.1   The growth in assets will be driven by their capacity to earn for years to come, and the wealth inherited from Baby Boomers.

While it’s easy to segment this demographic by their age and statistics about their current financial situations, it’s their attitudinal beliefs that really define who they are as clients of financial advisers.

They require a different proposition, and you should take a different approach to communicating and working with them.

Engaging with your younger clients

These younger generations are early to embrace technology, and prefer to manage their own finances online. They are typically wise beyond their years when it comes to saving for their financial futures, but the majority will still need some help figuring out what to do with their money, as they’re not confident in their savings strategies.

Steve Karpin, former CEO of CommSec, describes his perspective on Gen X and Y customers in an Australian Financial Review article in 2012:

“...They are more optimistic, more ambitious and more willing to back their own decisions. They understand the principles of diversification, they average about 10 stocks. They like to trade primarily online, they don’t speak with us very often. They have a greater interest in mobile apps. We see a disproportionate share of our younger customers using our mobile trading platform, not just for trading but for information.” 2

This group is accustomed to using technology to educate themselves on any topic at the click of a button, or the tap of a touch screen, any time they like. They’re used to being able to interact with brands in a conversational manner as well as at a customer service level through multiple online platforms like social media, live chat and email whenever it is convenient for them to do so.

In all likelihood, the average 30-something will be confident to take a DIY approach to developing strategies and investment portfolios, as they have grown up learning new information, teaching themselves new skills, and discovering the world through inquisitive web-searches, online forums, and video tutorials.

Further, this group will seek to be entertained as well as informed, having grown up playing online and mobile games.

Steve Crawford from Experience Wealth and Your Spending Coach presented at a Netwealth webinar and recommends:

“They are a tech savvy bunch, and their decision making process will almost always start at Google. Consequently, you need to have a good website that promotes strong click through rates to other product pages within your website, and most importantly, encourages people to pick up the phone and give you a call. It is also essential that information is kept up-to-date, clear and concise.

This group (particularly Gen Y) also prefers to keep up with their errands and conversations on-the-go. They want to meet with their adviser in a time and places that is convenient within their busy calendar, and advisers need to embrace technology to assist in keeping up with their schedules remotely. Consider looking into video conferencing tools such as Skype, GoToMeeting, SuiteBox, or even FaceTime on the iPhone, to enable you to connect with your clients wherever they are.”

A commitment to developing financial literacy and resilience

While these 30-somethings are very technically savvy and are ready to confidently explore new ideas to establish their financial futures, many admit that they would still like some help with figuring out what to do with their money and that they are less self-assured when it comes to savings strategies. 

In a 2015 Nielsen survey, about half of the respondents from Gen X and their ‘Millennial’ counterparts said that they need some help with putting together a financial strategy. A similar number of respondents said that they have some kind of debt that they are working to pay off.

In fact, the people in this client segment are cited as being the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, combined with lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same stage of their life cycles.

What is clear through looking at these insights, is that these clients need advisers to help them to improve their financial literacy, and to increase their long term resilience and grit to enable them to overcome their debts, set up effective savings and budgeting plans, and ultimately to inspire them to create a new reality for their financial future.

Read more: A new way of profiling your clients – the resilience and financial literacy customer needs framework

Education can play a huge part in helping your clients succeed. Some might say that financial success can ultimately be pinned on someone’s understanding of key financial concepts and their ability to see through short term challenges to longer term ‘staying power’ around saving and budgeting, investing, and so on.

Financial advisers can provide a valuable service to Gen X and Y by helping them to better understand financial concepts and issues, and to be able to assess the implications on their own situations and circumstances.

Without the help of a professional, it is quite likely that the average person in this age bracket will attempt to self-educate if they are interested in learning more about the ins-and-outs of financial theories and practices.

According to one report published by TD Direct Investing in April 2013:

“While more than a quarter of Gen Y investors said that a parent or family member taught them about savings and investing (27%), almost one fifth of Gen Y investors said that they learned about savings and investments on their own (18%)”.

Advisers have the potential to increase a 30-something’s financial literacy and resilience by sharing knowledge and thereby establishing a trusting relationship with them – which can ultimately assist in the process of nurturing successful adviser-client relationships.

The time is now

Ultimately, the clients that you can on-board from the 30-something demographic are ready to start their financial planning relationship with advisers now… if the advice proposition is crafted correctly.

Though they might not be ready to sign up for your tried and true strategies around superannuation, life insurance, and retirement planning (some might believe they’re still too young to think about setting themselves up for retirement) – they have reached the point in their wealth journeys where they are ready to establish a partnership with a professional who can help them to start setting themselves up for a brighter future.

Crawford advocates: To truly engage with the 30-something demographic, your advice strategy should be based around their personal goals. Understand what is happening in their lives, and their aspirations and drivers. Are they buying their first property? Starting a family? Paying off debt? Your best move will be to identify strategies where they can achieve their goals while maintaining the lifestyle they enjoy.

By connecting with this group today, and starting a conversation that helps them see their financial situation a little more clearly, you may find that they become a long-term client.

Connect with them in the places they’re interacting with brands, and communicate with them in ways that are engaging and convenient. Show them you understand their individual needs and that you’re willing to develop solutions that are tailored to their own desired outcomes. And help them to understand the world of wealth with more clarity.

After all, a relationship built now may have the potential to bring mutual success when the generational Baby Boomer wealth transition plays out in the future.



KPMG 2015 report, Banking on the future