Practice of the Month – The Hopkins Group

17-May-2017

By Sarah Kendell

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The question of how to engage the younger generation of advice clients is currently a popular one in the financial planning industry as it faces the mass transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their generation X and Y children over the next 20 years.

You could argue few advice firms have got their engagement strategy down when it comes to millennial clients, but in inner-city Melbourne, holistic practice The Hopkins Group has been actively reaching out to the younger generation through a targeted event and social media campaign.

The firm’s head of advice, Shane Light, says the strategy was born out of the realisation many older clients could have benefited from advice at a younger age, and with a staff of mainly millennials, The Hopkins Group is perfectly placed to know how to engage with this younger age group.

“We saw it as a gap in the market because a lot of clients we’ve come across have regretted not sorting out their finances earlier – they’ve often had large incomes during their working lives but had little left to show for it at the end of the day because they don’t know how to save,” Light says.

“We have a lot of graduate advisers on staff who are generation Y and we thought it made sense to engage with those of a similar age group and talk about the common issues we all face in life.”

To Hopkins Group marketing manager Kate Elliott, herself a millennial, employing the right tone is vital to the practice’s push to get generation Y clients excited about saving and investing.

“Rather than talking to them in the same way we talk to their parents, we needed to engage with them in a way where they are not intimidated,” Elliott says.

Alongside a Facebook group and YouTube video series that have garnered several hundred views, the group’s regular cash-flow and budgeting workshops, titled “Bubbles, Beers & Budgeting”, bring around 12 to 15 millennials together each session for a discussion about money in a venue that most generation Ys feel comfortable with – the local bar.

“They come along and have a drink and some pizza and everyone gets a workbook to go through some goal setting – it’s very laid-back and interactive,” Elliott says.

“After the event we send a series of emails to keep them involved – we give them a template budget, links to the [ASIC] MoneySmart website and goal-setting tools to stay on that journey, ultimately moving to engage them in a formal capacity as part of our budgeting program, which has a paid membership.”

While a common complaint about the millennial market is their net wealth and willingness to pay advice fees makes them a less profitable client demographic, Light says the engagement strategy is a long-term play for The Hopkins Group.

“We have clients who are profitable and unprofitable regardless of what demographic they’re in – as an adviser, it’s always your top 20 per cent who earn you the majority of income,” he points out.

“For us it’s more the intergenerational advice this could lead to – as these clients grow with us we may not make money out of them initially, but at one point in time they will need their first mortgage, inherit wealth or they may start to take super a bit more seriously, and when they do we would like to be their first port of call.”

For businesses looking to successfully engage generation Y clients and prospects, Elliott says it’s important to make the experience as genuine as possible.

“It’s tough out there for generation Y, so it’s necessary that businesses are changing their approach to fit the language of the next generation,” she says.

“For people wanting to tell millennials things, you have to walk the talk, you can’t just talk the talk – if you didn’t have gen Y staff, it would be hard for businesses to do that the way we are able to do that.”

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