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Use These Behavioral Tips to “Science” Your Clients on Saving

According to a 2017 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), only 61 percent of responding American workers reported having saved money for retirement, with 56 percent of respondents reporting they are currently saving (at the time of the survey) for their golden years. Only 18 percent of respondents feel very confident that they are doing a good job preparing for retirement, with another 38 percent feeling somewhat confident.

As a financial planner, this isn’t news to you, though it may be more disappointing for you than most given your line of work. As someone on the front lines of trying to help people understand the value of saving for anything later in life, you know it can be an uphill battle.

In this post, I want to provide you with a few tools to help your help clients get past some of the standard pitfalls around saving, using the very science that generates the issues as your weapon. Helping clients understand the reasons behind why we make excuses to avoid saving may be just what they need to overcome these challenges.

Excuse No. 1: I don’t have enough money to save.

For some investors, this is a valid excuse. If the money’s not there, it’s not there. For others, however, it may be the type of Catch-22 situation that you can help attempt to reverse simply by understanding behavioral tendencies. In other words, the old adage telling us that “the more we make, the more we spend,” is actually deeply rooted in behavioral science.

One of the more useful qualities we have as human beings is our ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. But some experts like James Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University, believe that our adaptability may hinder us in terms of saving and spending. He uses the example of a college student who wants to get out of his or her dorm, then moves into a rental house but gets tired of having roommates, then dreams of a small house, then a bigger house (and on and on from there) to show that our minds very quickly move on to the next step when we attain a goal or desire.

Another reason behind our penchant to overspend and under-save is simply that we may have seen it from our parents and them modeled the behavior. In other words, over time, we have fostered and intensified these bad habits which, as we all know, can be extremely difficult to break. However, some researchers believe that we have the ability to change almost any habit through repetition via a series of mental processes.

While you (and by extension, your clients) can be the judge of whether this might work for you, I would recommend picking up the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which takes a serious look at habit formation and the science behind why we do what we do. Besides the interesting case studies and frameworks, the heart of Duhigg’s theory centers on the importance of simply understanding that habits can be broken:

“Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom—and the responsibility—to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.”

The point? Clients may be, in some ways, relieved to hear that the negative behaviors that keep them from saving money are not totally their fault (thanks a lot, science), but an equally important part of the message is that there are ways to fight to overcome these ingrained habits.

Excuse No. 2: Retirement (or other savings goals) is/are just too far in the future to focus on today.

I was meeting friends at the National Western Stock Show in Denver a few summers ago, and when I arrived, I realized that I hadn’t purchased tickets (and as a result, probably could have reached up and touched the roof from the nose-bleed seats I had to grab on-site). My immediate thought was, “How did you not think to do the one thing you needed to do prior to attending that event?”

According to a recent study, part of the answer (beyond my own struggles in staying organized) may be that I made the plans too far in advance for my brain to plan for that contingency. This story dovetails well with one of the most common excuses for failing to save for retirement (or other goals)—investors just don’t have the wherewithal to plan that far ahead. If it’s difficult for us to plan for an event a few months down the road, remember that your clients are looking at planning 30 or 40 years into the future.

According to Dale Griffin, associate dean and professor of marketing at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, we can look at “temporal construal” and “loss aversion” as potential behavioral biases that make it difficult to make good decisions about our future. Griffin explains “temporal construal” as the tendency for far-off events to be mentally experienced differently than closer events.

“Events or ideas far off in time are thought of in abstract and general terms, with an unavoidable overlay of optimism; so thinking about yourself (or your children) in 40 or 50 years creates a mental image that is akin to pondering a vague, general, overly rosy idea rather than a detailed individual with real problems,” Griffin wrote in this Slate article.

In the same vein, studies on the theory of “temporal discounting,” or the idea that individuals prefer more modest immediate rewards to larger potential future rewards, have shown that we have trouble seeing future events in clear focus and difficulty in attempting to imagine what our future selves will look and act like. One can see how these types of mental blocks can affect our ability to take saving for the future seriously in the present.

“Loss aversion,” according to Griffin, is essentially the idea that humans are more likely to think about potential “losses” than potential “gains” in the long term. In other words, we are programmed to be more worried about future debt than what we might “gain” by saving for retirement, which may result in attempting to pay off our mortgages or student loans more quickly, at the expense of building a retirement account.

However, the idea that repetitious activities in the present, such as monthly mortgage or student loan payments, can help our minds focus on making decisions to solve long-term challenges in the present, can offer a glimmer of hope from a savings perspective. Specifically, the idea that providing ourselves with short-term rewards or benchmarks (instead of trying to visualize a single “number” or long term goal), may be helpful in building a saving habit for the long-term, and can at least provide a place to start (or something to hang our collective hat on).

In addition, these findings may help you help your clients look at the tendency to not save enough with a fresh perspective, and to consider fresh solutions. Instead of beating themselves up because they failed to meet their savings goal for the third straight month, they could try something more constructive and potentially even fun.

For example, you may recommend that they download of the many free face-aging apps available for iPhone or Android. AgingBooth and FaceApp are two of the more popular applications that use alogrithms and neural-network technologies to show us what we might look like when we’re much older. Although the accuracy of the imagery is certainly up for debate, I can attest that seeing my face aged years into the future was a disconcerting experience and provided a surprising dose of perspective.

Perhaps these applications give you a unique opportunity to break through the “temporal discounting” barrier and make the idea of aging more real for your clients. MerillEdge, in partnership with Bank of America, was one of the first to launch this type of application in 2014 (called FaceRetirement), and according to Bank of America, 60 percent of the nearly 1 million people who used the app chose to learn more about retirement and beginning to plan for the future.

Or, because the causes we have discussed have roots in behavior, perhaps finding a few easy-to-consume, investor-friendly articles to share with your clients on behavioral science will help provide some useful insights that they just didn’t have before. While we can’t say the same for all financial topics, it is an extremely interesting part of what you do as a planner and has the potential to engage a wider audience.

Excuse No. 3: I can’t save money because I lost too much in the last crisis.

There are certainly situations where this might be true, and if that’s the case, your client is in good hands working with a planner like you. For many others, and especially individuals in younger generations, the statement above is a prime example of the “sunk cost fallacy,” the very same behavior that kept me sitting in the theater during the fourth installment in the Transformers franchise instead of walking out after the first 20 minutes.

A “sunk cost” can be defined as any cost (not just monetary, but also time and effort) that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. The “sunk cost fallacy” is an extension of the human behavior of “loss aversion” mentioned above, in that we are programmed to focus more on the costs we have already accrued (and that we can never get back) than the future experience we are putting our time, money or effort toward.

Thus, the more we invest in something, the harder it may be to let it go (even if it turns out to be a terrible investment). I’m sure that every one of your clients can think of a time where they continued to stick with something for the sole reason that they had already put a lot of money or effort toward its completion – we all have. And to be clear, sometimes that can be a good thing (i.e., finishing a degree, completing a rigorous fitness program, climbing a difficult peak, etc.).

However, the “sunk cost fallacy” can become an issue with saving money, because subconsciously, our minds may be thinking about the money we have lost in the past and urging us to try to get that investment back. As you are well aware, this can encourage risk-taking and other behaviors that have the potential to cut into the portfolio your clients have worked so hard to build.

Conclusion

If this was easy, Amazon wouldn’t have 105,000 results on the search term “behavioral science.” The human brain is a powerful tool, and as such, each of the behaviors I mentioned here will not be easy to counteract.

Because these behaviors are all propagated by the mind, simply understanding the “why” behind our struggles to focus on the future is an important place to start. Learning how these behaviors may affect them in a saving capacity is only the first step for your clients—the next will be helping encourage them to put in the effort on a daily basis to overcome these obstacles.

Your clients are facing an uphill battle, but there’s nobody better than you to help guide them.

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Dan Martin is the Director of Marketing for the Financial Planning Association, the principal professional organization for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) professionals, educators, financial services professionals and students who seek advancement in a growing, dynamic profession. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @DanW_Martin.


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How Meditation Could Help Your Clients

Habits your clients have developed around money have most likely been with them for decades. One study from Cambridge University found that people develop money habits by the age of 7.

It might be beneficial to your clients to recommend meditation to tackle their bad money habits—whether it’s overspending online, living beyond their means to keep up with their neighbors, or continually financially supporting an adult child.

“When you just think about money, it’s all psychologically based,” said Michael Liersch, head of behavioral finance at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, in a March 2017 article on TheStreet.com “To really be authentic about it, the whole premise of money is emotionally based in essence. Removing emotion from investment decision-making is just a false premise to begin with.”

Just as mindfulness and meditation can help a person who is trying to lose weight, it can also help somebody who may be trying to overcome negative money habits. One study from Harvard University found that mindfulness meditation actually increases the amount of gray matter in the brain’s frontal cortex, which aids in memory and decision-making.

The New York Times reported that a different study from the same researchers found areas of the brain that deal with emotional regulation, learning, focus, and perspective were all thickened after just eight weeks of meditation.

“The payoff s that come from establishing a meditation practice are well worth the time invested,” Leisa Peterson, business strategist and money coach, wrote in a 2015 Huffington Post article. “When you become more mindful about money, you learn a great deal about yourself and also your ability to be creative and intentional, rather than reactionary,” Peterson wrote.

Peterson recommends guided meditation apps to get your clients started. Meditation to overcome negative money habits seems to have worked for some people.

Rebecca Velasquez told LearnVest in 2016 she was able to find financial clarity and save $25,000 by being more mindful. “Meditation requires guidance and support as well as a willingness to take it on every single day,” Velasquez said. “Once that willingness is there, it opens up a whole world of possibilities and revelations, which may end up benefiting your well-being—financial health included.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


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These Tips Can Help Advisers Attract—and Keep—High Net Worth Clients

By Robert Powell, MarketWatch.com

For many advisers, high net worth individuals or households — those with more than $1 million in investible assets — are a kind of Holy Grail.

The reasons are clear. HWNIs, which represent just 0.7 percent of the world’s adult population but own 45.2 percent of the wealth, are good for business. They’re highly profitable and loyal, according to Rebecca Li-Huang, a wealth adviser at HSBC, who wrote a chapter in the June 2017 book Financial Behavior: Players, Services, Products, and Markets.

Consider: An adviser can earn one-half of 1 percent of assets under management on a $10 million account, say $50,000 a year. By contrast, the very same adviser would earn only $1,000 a year on a $100,000 account. For financial advisers, the attraction should be obvious.

But there’s more to the story, and advisers should get to know the psychology of HNWIs before taking them on as clients. Just like regular folks, Li-Huang wrote, they are prone to behavioral biases and judgment errors, not perfectly rational, utility-maximizing, unemotional homo economicus.

In short, wrote Li-Huang, they are humans. And in the U.S., according to Li-Huang, they often share a particular way of thinking about what they want from their money that financial advisers should consider when trying to serve them.

American HNWIs like to direct their investment according to their personal beliefs and values, and they play a large role in public life through philanthropy and politics, according to Li-Huang. And many want to leave a legacy by giving back to society while generating a financial return on their investments.

“The holistic returns on cultural, environmental, social, and political causes are gaining importance in wealth management,” wrote Li-Huang. “The trend toward helping HNWIs address their personal aspirations and social-impact needs is part of a broader wealth management industry transition toward giving holistic wealth advice.”

Focus on goals while mitigating stress

How can advisers do that? For starters, according to Li-Huang, advisers can focus on goals-based financial planning, holistic wealth management, and services that address investments, lending, tax and estate planning, insurance, philanthropy, and succession planning.

With goals-based planning, wrote Li-Huang, success is measured by how clients are progressing toward their personalized goals rather than against a benchmark index such as the S&P 500 stock index. (Publicly traded securities don’t necessarily contribute that much to a HNWI’s wealth, notes Li-Huang, as just one in eight millionaires say equities were an important factor in their economic success.)

Still, she argues, HNWIs do need to invest in diversified markets and use tax-efficient strategies. And advisers can add value by “mitigating psychological costs, such as reducing anxiety rather than improving investment performance” and by focusing on financial planning and advice on savings and asset allocation.

Li-Huang cited research that suggests that investors don’t necessarily want the best risk-adjusted returns but, rather, the best returns they can achieve for the level of stress they have to experience, or what some call anxiety-adjusted returns.

In the cast of HNWIs, they tend to practice something called “emotional inoculation.” They outsource the part of the investment decision-making that induces stress, according to Li-Huang.

HNWIs are especially looking to their wealth manager for help with philanthropy. They are looking for “support and advice, such as setting goals and defining their personal role in their areas of interest, identifying and structuring investments, and measuring outcomes of their social impact efforts,” she wrote.

Given that advisers need to provide their HNWI clients with tax and philanthropy specialists.

In advisers they trust

When HNWIs consider selecting an adviser, they tend to focus more on honesty and trustworthiness than past investment performance or standard professional credentials, according to Li-Huang.

That’s not to say that professional credentials and competence don’t matter — they do — but, rather, that they are not sufficient in and of themselves, according to Li-Huang.

HNWIs — who tend to have less time and resources for due diligence than typical clients of financial advisers — use something called “trust heuristics” when searching for an adviser with whom to work.

In other words, they’re even more likely to assume that the category leaders are among the best in a highly regulated world even as they hold advisers referred by family members, friends and acquaintances in high regard, according to Li-Huang.

Consequently, perhaps, HNWIs tend to trust their advisers much more than less wealthy retail investor trust their financial advisers.

So, what is trust to a HNWI? According to Li-Huang, HNWis trust advisers who show signs that they’re acting in the client’s best interest, reach out proactively, charge reasonable fees, deliver mistake-free work — and admit when they’re wrong.

In many ways, attracting and retaining HNWIs isn’t much different that getting and keeping what are called “mass affluent” clients, who have with assets of less than $1 million. But the differences are worth noting, because the stakes are higher, and a bit of extra knowledge can pay off.

This story first ran on July 21, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

Related Links from MarketWatch:

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5 Tips for Advising Female Clients of the Sandwich Generation

It is estimated that by the year 2020, women are going to control 67 percent of U.S. wealth, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. And we know that currently the majority of primary caregivers for children and elderly parents are women.

Chances are in the next few years, you’re going to see more female clients who are working full time, taking care of their children, and taking care of their older, and possibly ailing, parents.

The National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP estimate that 66 percent of caregivers for elderly parents are female. The 2011 MetLife Study of Caregiving Costs to Working Caregivers (the most recent MetLife study available) estimates the total cost of lost wages, pension benefits and Social Security benefits for the average female caregiver is $324,044.

Dennis Stearns, CFP®, ChFC®, founder of Stearns Financial Group, said in the March 2017 Journal 10 questions interview that women in the sandwich generation need both financial and life planning from their advisers. Because not only is the financial toll great for these female caregivers, so is the toll on their health. The American Journal of Public Health reported that women who cared for parents were two times as likely to experience depression and anxiety as those who are not caregivers. According to Stearns, the best thing to do is to plan early before the sandwich caregiving crisis hits.

If your clients haven’t planned, here are some things you can do to help them:

1) Advise them to not do anything drastic. Marguerita M. Cheng, CFP®, wrote on Kiplinger.com that the best financial advice to sandwich caregivers is to not do anything drastic, like quit their jobs.

2) Encourage them not to accumulate any new debt. Go over their budget and help them figure out where they can trim expenses. Help them find and apply for services their parents may qualify for to help offset expenses.

3) Refer them to other professionals. Many other professionals can help, including counselors, tutors, or in-home health aides. Ensure any professionals you refer are thoroughly vetted.

4) Encourage them to find time to care for themselves. Mark Struthers, CFA, CFP®, wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that clients need to take time to recharge their batteries.

5) Have them enlist the help of other family members. Cheng suggested on Kiplinger.com that asking for help from siblings can help alleviate stress. “Being smart and financially sound will help decrease stress and allow families to enjoy time together,” she wrote.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org

 


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3 Levels of Trust and Why They Matter

In this year—2017—there is a “crisis of trust.”

So says the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global trust survey. Not since the study began tracking trust among the global population have they found such a broad decline in trust in all four key institutions—business, government, non-governmental organizations and media.

The 2016 survey noted that financial services are the least trusted industry of any they surveyed.

With the fall of trust, the majority of respondents now don’t believe that the system is working for them. In this climate, people’s societal and economic concerns turn into fears, spurring the rise of populist actions which have played out across the globe.

Such is the importance of forging trust among your clients. When it comes to trust there are three levels and advisers should know each one in order to be more trustworthy in the eyes of your clients.

As the chair of financial and legal innovation at ForbesBooks, and as a former financial coach, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the issue of trust. Trust is the foundation of the financial adviser–client relationship. We all know that. It’s particularly crucial when somebody is in a vulnerable position and with family and health, finances are among the most vulnerable areas we have.

Trust is a powerful intangible asset, defined differently by each client. Allen Harris, CEO of Berkshire Money Management, Inc., said that when it comes to the adviser-client relationship, trust is sometimes a too-easily-earned commodity. Clients want to trust their adviser and sometimes do so unquestioningly.

“Unfortunately, financial advisers don’t have to do much to earn that initial trust,” Harris said in a recent interview. “The client needs help and believes that someone with a shingle has their best interest at heart.”

study by the Wharton School looked at three levels of trust between advisers and clients. The first is trust in knowhow. Investors are looking for someone whose competence inspires trust. This first level addresses the question, “Do you know what you’re doing?”

“Many people find advisers by way of referral, so they feel they can trust the adviser because someone else trusts them,” Harris told us in a recent interview. “But why did that first person trust the adviser? Maybe the adviser did something to earn that trust, but maybe not. Clients get lucky a lot, because most every adviser is a good person who means to do good. But like in any profession, that’s not always true. So the client rationalizes trust by a gut feeling, a referral or a slick brochure.”

The second level is trust in ethical conduct. This level addresses the question, “Do I trust you not to steal money from me?”

“If you are trying to protect from embezzlement, that’s easy,” Harris said. “You want a public held, highly regulated, closely scrutinized custodian of your assets. Then the client always has the access to and the ability to view their money.”

If the client is trying to protect herself from malpractice, one big problem is that the SEC and FINRA do not allow investment performance to be a consideration in complaints against an adviser. Don’t get me wrong—investment performance isn’t the thing that should be a deciding factor, but it should be a benchmark to be sure clients make money when the market goes up but also that the adviser is proactive in protecting the portfolios during down times. That’s the type of referral you really want.

The third level of trust is trust in empathetic skills. This level addresses the question, “Do you care about me?” There is no formula for this one. CNBC sites a study released by the CFA Institute which shows that so-called soft skills—typically things such as relationship-building and interpersonal communication—will be more important than technical skills in the coming years.

These attributes—a proven track record, an ethical reputation and sincere empathy—inspire trust on all three levels. For financial advisers, trust is not simply a nice thing to have, but a critical strategic asset.

Harper Tucker
Harper Tucker is the chair of Financial and Legal Innovation Practice and vice-president of Authority Marketing, a leading the author acquisition process for ForbesBooks and Advantage Media Group


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5 Signs It’s Time to Move On from a Prospect

Have you ever had a high net worth prospect who seemed semi-interested in working with you but you just couldn’t quite get them off the fence? You’ve called several times; maybe you’ve even met with them and offered recommendations, but something is holding them back from taking that final step to becoming a client. Then, your prospecting efforts become unreturned voicemails or vague replies to your emails. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the signs and realize it’s time to move on.

Following is a brief overview of what I tell my clients to look for and how to know when to let go.

Sign No. 1: A Family Member in the Business

Most experienced advisers and agents know that when a prospect says, “I have a brother in-law in the business but I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say,” it probably means that they don’t completely trust their relative, however it doesn’t guarantee that they’d change anything. Instead, they most likely will consider your recommendations, talk it over with their relative and still not end up working with you. The reason is because relatives are just too awkward to walk away from when it comes to business dealings.

If you run across this type of prospect, qualify them right away by saying something like this, “If we identify some need for changes in your portfolio, are you in a position to do business with me?” This will help you identify how serious they are about working with you.

Sign No. 2: Wanting to Split their Business

Some prospects may like your recommendations but not want to sever ties with their current adviser or agent. The reason is simple, it’s because they are familiar and have established trust with that person. They don’t know you but they might consider working with you on a trial basis.

Unfortunately, many times they are doing this with the caveat that they can compare results and then let go of the adviser/agent that doesn’t do as well for them. If this scenario is offered—working with you to “see what happens”—it’s important for you to reply like this, “I’m sorry but the clients I work with need to provide reasonable time for my process and recommendations to come to fruition.” When you stand by your value, you may lose a prospect now and again but you maintain your self-respect. As a result, you also build a better client base.

Sign No. 3: They Took Your Recommendations and Bought Online

Years ago, I had a prospect take several of my recommendations and purchase them in an online account. He felt there was nothing wrong with it since it saved him money. I on the other hand believe that if the relationship starts off on the wrong foot, it will end up remaining that way. This type of prospect is merely showing you that they don’t value your services. If this happens, you need to be ready to walk away.

Sign No. 4: You are Chasing a Ghost

At some point, you will have a prospect that needs to “think about it” or “review things.” When you follow-up they may not return your calls. The reason is because they didn’t see the value in your recommendations in the first place.

There may have been a concern or objection that you didn’t address. If this happens, simply leave a message like this, “Hi ______, this is _______ with _______. I have a quick question that only you can answer. Could you please call me when you hear this? My number is _________.” This is what I refer to as the “curiosity message.” If they aren’t curious enough to call you back, they really aren’t interested in doing business with you. If they do call, you need to ask them something directly like, “Are you still interested in (insert three benefits here).” If they are, then set another appointment with them to do the paperwork.

Sign No. 5: You Just Don’t Like the Prospect

If you find yourself dreading any type of communication with a specific prospect (email, phone call or appointments) then you certainly do not want to work with them. No matter how much business you think they can provide, inform them that you might not be an appropriate fit and they could be better served by someone who could provide more of what they are looking for.

Why Watching for Warning Signs is Important

This is not an easy business but when you make a conscious choice to work with people who want to work with you, you can make things much easier on yourself. That’s why it is so important to watch for warning signs that it’s time to move on from a prospect. Life is too short to chase those who don’t see your value.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
 Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 

 


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Be A Gen Savvy Planner: Take Off Your Generational Lenses

Our early environments shape us for the rest of our lives.

That’s why there is so much difference between the generations, said Cam Marston, an expert on generational change and founder of Generational Insights.

Marston told FPA Retreat attendees in April that baby boomers are tough and were never told they were unique or special, so they overcompensated by telling their kids—who are Gen-Xers and millennials—that they were extra special. Therefore, those two generations were raised to think they were unique and that their needs were very important.

“What imprints on younger people impacts them for the rest of their lives,” Marston said. “Millennials and Gen-X have been brought up to say, ‘What’s going to make me happy?’

Planners should understand the vast differences between the generations and know how to talk to and communicate with each one.

Boomers. To connect with the boomer, Marston said, you need to understand how they see the world. They’re hardworking and they have the mentality that retirement is going to be great. They want to hear your story and know where you come from.

Hanging up your diplomas or certificates in your office during your meetings with boomers is a good idea.

Key points about boomers:

1.) Understand and acknowledge their work ethic—which they generally measure in hours (i.e., “I work 50-60 hours a week”).

2.) Ask them about their accomplishments and acknowledge what they’ve done.

3.) Communicate that you are on the same page. Emphasize that you are a team.

5.) Pick up the phone and call them and meet with them in person.

6.) Beware of too much technology.

7.) Know the difference between “leading” baby boomers (older than 62 and like communication that emphasizes how they deserve retirement); and “trailing” baby boomers (ages 53-61 and need to be reassured that they’re going to be OK despite setbacks they experienced in retirement savings thanks to the recession).

Gen-Xers. This generation are stalkers of product and services. They demand to be an educated consumer and are leery of “being had,” Marston said. They are interested in how well you can teach them to make a good decision. Your relationship should be a partnership.

Key points about Gen-Xers:

1.) They are going to do research and have you prove why your advice is better than what they found via this research.

2.) They tend to prefer email and your communication should be brief, succinct and to the point.

3.) Don’t waste your time leaving them voicemails.

4.) Make sure your web presence is pristine—they’ll look you up online before contacting you.

5.) The Gen-X mother has tremendous buying power and influence. She’s coming up in terms of her earning, she’s informed and she’s fully engaged. Keep her happy.

6.) Communicate how decisions will affect them personally.

Millennials. Millennials are individuals with a group orientation. They believe they’re unique but they also enjoy being part of a group.

Millennials think, “You tell me about me and what’s going to happen and how I’m going to feel about it,” Marston said.

Key points about millennials:

1.) They’re optimistic.

2.) You will get more attendance from them if you ask them to bring people. Engage them as a group and they will be more interested.

3.) They feel they are unique and special.

4.) They don’t think so much in the long-term as the other generations.

5.) They are achieving milestones (i.e., getting married, buying houses, having kids) later in life than the previous generations.

6.) Communicate via text messages and social media.

Understand these key points about each generation and try to see the world through their eyes when you’re talking to them.

“Everybody pitches and articulates their value from their own generational lense,” Marston said, “but I’ve got to take my lenses off and put on somebody else’s.”

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org