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How to Unlock the Hidden Value of Millennial Summer Interns

With summer quickly approaching, many financial advisors will welcome interns to their practices. Many well-meaning advisors will seek to use interns for important functions, such as helping to forge financial plans, rather than rely on them to conduct menial labor such as running errands. Yet, what many advisors don’t realize is that summer interns can play a major role in strengthening marketing and sales efforts.

That is especially true with efforts to court millennials as clients. Millennials are a bit of paradox for marketers. On one hand, many have been raised to believe that they are special or unique, so they often require customized services and products. Yet, they also tend to value community and social justice.

Having taken on substantial college tuition debt and living through the Great Recession, they can be jaded about the financial services industry, so gaining their trust can be tricky. Many have also dealt with stagnant wage growth. And while they are tech savvy, millennials who seek financial advice on complicated matters often turn to advisors rather than computer-based services.

Despite the financial hurdles that they face, they can be an attractive market for advisors. There are 80 million millennials in the U.S, making it the largest generation in history. In addition, some 40 million millennials have children and an additional 10,000 millennials give birth each day.

As they enter parenthood, they are likely to become frugal and they tend to believe that they can achieve success by working hard, saving money, and limiting their spending. Parenthood, of course, presents unique financial needs for millennials, such as saving for college tuition, purchasing life insurance, and having sufficient disability insurance to replace income that could be lost in the event of an injury or illness.

When considering those factors and the possibility that millennials’ income will increase as their careers advance, it makes sense to pursue the youthful prospects. The challenge, however, is to overcome millennials’ distrust of financial services firms. That’s where college interns can play a major role.

Rather than limiting interns to back-office functions, advisors should include the new recruits in sales meetings when pitching to millennials. Simply put, most individuals feel comfortable when working with people close to their own age. In part, individuals tend to gravitate toward other individuals who may look like them, including appearing to be the same age.

Such behavior, surprisingly, was observed during the filming of the Planet of the Apes movies. During breaks from filming, actors dressed as apes tended to sit together while those dressed as chimpanzees sat together. The seating arrangements were not deliberate but illustrate how we unconsciously prefer to be among people who appear to be similar to ourselves. For financial advisors, having millennials on staff can go a long way in winning the trust of other millennials.

Interns should also be used to fine tuning marketing materials. Interns may help ensure that marketing messages are consistent with millennials’ values and speak to millennials’ interests. For example, with millennials tending to be frugal, developing materials that emphasize the value of low cost investment products may be appropriate.

Advisors should also consider marketing materials that emphasize how increasing savings rates can help millennials reach their long-term financial goals. Marketing materials should also provide case studies or examples of how advisors have customized services to meet the unique needs of individual millennials. Emphasizing college tuition planning services and other financial services for new families may also go a long way in courting millennials.

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