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Building Trust with Gen X and Millennial Investors

The Business Challenge

Generation X, born between 1961 and 1981, was still attempting to recover from the Great Recession in 2018. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2010, this often ignored "middle child" of generations lost nearly 40% of its net worth. Known as a generation that does things on its own, its members became wary of financial advisors, preferring instead to manage their own investments.

Research further showed Millennials, because of what they witnessed coming of age during the Great Recession, experienced financial trauma. That caused this generation, born between 1982-2000, to invest as conservatively as their grandparents did coming out of the Great Depression. In 2018, 57% of Millennials and 39% of Gen Xers remained strongly influenced in their financial decisions by the previous decade's financial crisis. Industry scandals, stock selloffs, and political controversies that affected the stock market in 2018 further diminished trust in financial advisors among these two groups.

This sustainable investment fund client wanted its financial advisors, who already offered its funds to investors, to have guidance on getting investors to trust their institution, which has no history of financial scandals or controversies. In fact, it's ranked as a trusted financial institution and top employer because of its authentic commitment to employee equity.

The Solution

Position papers typically are pre-sale content tools. But the client wanted one that targeted internal stakeholders or advisors who already offered its product to investors. The advisors understood the investment product, but they were trying to solve the problem of mistrust among Gen X and Millennial clients, and the bank wanted to offer a solution. So, the bank decided a problem/solution position paper would achieve its aim by demonstrating to advisors why its fund (and the bank) was a trustworthy alternative in the investing space that engenders confidence among investors.

The position paper implicitly but honestly encouraged advisors to convey their association with this trusted institution. It communicated to advisors that offering the fund to clients enhances their reputation, making them appear more trustworthy to investors, too. (This was something I was comfortable doing because it's true.)

That made the position paper a business development tool for advisors. It educated the fund's advisors with a transparent, simple understanding of the support services the bank provides advisors to market the bank's investment products.

I also designed the position paper, in collaboration with the client, to help advisors build trust with investors by showing them they were adding carefully constructed, high performing investment products to their portfolios. So, educating advisors on the support they could get from the bank to help market the product was one goal.

But, the client also wanted a position paper that showed advisors how to emphasize with their clients the bank's commitment to offering sustainable investment products made by investors for investors. So, this position paper achieved that objective, too.

The Project Approach

I began by providing the member of the executive leadership team I worked with throughout the project with an outline. It included a combination of financial media citations (like those linked above) and relevant content from the fund provider's website to support the concepts in my position paper. Because this position paper got offered as a content download from advisor portal to advisors who already sell the product, SEO wasn't necessary.

But, I organized the position paper so the client could turn each subheading into a blog post written to promote the position paper and the bank's support for its advisor clients. I helped them identify content that might get turned into a presentation, a webinar or additional videos by the fund's then-president and CEO. Those elements could get used for other promotions of the position paper on the portal where advisors went to find educational and other information.

The Intended Outcome

I wrote the position paper to help financial advisors understand the benefits of offering this fund in a wealth management environment that wasn't engendering trust among investors. The advisors could then incorporate that into their investor education and business development activities. The position paper also showed the fund's advisors the bank would provide content that helps them with client retention.

The bank client invested in the position paper to build trust with its investment advisor clients. But, it had the dual purpose of providing methods for those investment advisors to build trust with their investor clients.

The investor portal also allowed advisors who were not bank clients to get access to advisor-specific content by creating an account. So, those advisors could see the position paper and related content provided by the bank, which might lead to more becoming advisors for the fund and offering it to their investors.

Work with Me

If you'd like to discuss a similar project for your financial institution, I offer a complimentary 30-minute introductory phone call to discuss your needs. Learn about that by reviewing my collaborative process. After you do, contact me to set up a time to share more details about your project.

(c) 2023-2024. Dahna M. Chandler for The Financial Communicator, a division of Thrive Media Collaborative, Inc. All rights reserved. This case story may not be reproduced or reposted in whole or in part, including in LLMs, without express written permission of the author.

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