Generation next: How to build your future client base



With close to 7 million Gen Xs and Gen Ys in Australia, it's time to start reaching out to the 'young' people who don’t yet have an accountant or financial adviser. Not sure where to begin? Then it’s time to consider your most fertile referral source — your existing clients. 

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If your clients are mainly retirees and pre-retirees, their need for your services is likely to decrease as time marches on. The hard truth is, unless you have a new generation of clients to take their place, your business could struggle in the future.

What’s more, if your firm caters predominantly for pre-retirees, you can gain a reputation as purely retirement business — which means accumulators may look elsewhere for the financial services they need.

But don’t despair: there are plenty of ways accountants and financial advisers can expand their intergenerational client base. And the sooner you connect with younger clients, the longer you’ll have to build deep relationships with them so they can gain the greatest long-term benefit from your services.

Understanding the generations

If you’re looking to attract younger clients, first you need to understand the needs and preferences of each generation. That way, you can tailor your client engagement and communication methods so they’re as effective as possible.

Gen X (late 30s to mid-50s): They may be the children of your retired clients, and the older ones will be starting to think about retirement themselves. This cohort tends to be financially aware but also sceptical, which means you’ll need to really demonstrate the value your services if you want to win them over.

Gen Y (20s to mid-30s): These ‘millennials’ have strong career aspirations and lifestyle goals. They’re also tech savvy and prefer to use online channels for banking and shopping. To effectively engage this group, you need to make the most of your digital platforms and ensure your communications are targeted and personalised.



Boost your intergenerational referrals in 4 steps 

Recent international research shows that 84% of consumers across all generations trust personal recommendations over advertising.1 The inference for accountants and advisers is clear: the most effective way to reach out to new clients is through their loved ones who are already your clients. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Change the perception

The first step is to make sure your existing and potential clients know that you’re not just a retirement business — but rather, you have the expertise and resources to help clients at every life stage.

Brochures and posters in your office can plant the seed in your clients’ minds that their children and grandchildren could benefit from your services — whether it’s growing their savings, managing their tax liability, protecting their assets or investing for the future. And don’t forget to incorporate this messaging into your other client touchpoints too, like your website, client newsletters and emails.

Step 2: Start the conversation

If you’re new to asking clients to refer friends and family, it can be daunting at first. So before you meet with a client, think about what you want to say to them and practise on a colleague. You want to make sure that you’ll sound confident and natural when you’re talking to the client.

Also, make sure you do your homework before the meeting. By understanding your client’s family structure and circumstances, it will be easier to identify and suggest ways you could help their other family members. Remember, it’s not just about asking your clients for new business — it’s about improving each generation’s financial position to benefit the family as a whole.

Step 3: Send a reminder

Your client may have every intention of referring a family member, but they forget as soon as they walk out the door. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow up with them a week or two after your meeting. You could email them a gentler reminder of the discussion you had about their child or grandchild — and maybe even attach a brochure or a link to your website for them to pass on.

Step 4: Say thanks

For each successful referral you receive from a client, it’s important to show your gratitude. Whether it’s a simple thank-you phone call or a tangible reward like a gift voucher, giving your referring clients the recognition they deserve will also encourage them to refer others.
You should also keep an eye on your referral track record, to see where you’re having the most success. The insights you gain will help you develop your client engagement processes and tools — so you can grow your business even further.


1 Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, Nielsen, 2013.