Generation X: Winning this Purpose-Driven Investor's Trust
The Business Challenge
Generation X, born between 1961 and 1981, lost nearly 40% of its net worth between 2007 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Still suffering the consequences of those Great Recession losses in 2018 when I completed this project, 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 confidence in financial advisors among Gen Xers. This often ignored "middle child" of generations preferred instead to manage their own investments.
Gen X investors also are sincere about living a purpose-driven life, maintaining a commitment to investing for social good. They gravitate toward index funds comprised of companies that consistently apply true ESG or environmental, social or governance standards to their daily operations. This represented an opportunity for wealth advisors to offer this wealthiest generation of clients index funds that suit their requirements. But, they first had to gain Gen X investor faith in them.
This ESG-focused ETF fund client wanted its financial advisors to have guidance on getting Gen X 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 client wanted a position paper that targeted internal stakeholders or advisors who already offered the product to investors. Their advisors knew the ETF product well, so my client decided a problem/solution position paper could achieve its aim of demonstrating to advisors, some of whom provided other ETF funds to clients, that its fund (and the bank) was one of the most trustworthy for purpose-driven investors like Gen X to consider in the investing marketplace.
The position paper implicitly but honestly encouraged advisors to convey their association with this trusted institution. It communicated to advisors that offering the ETF to clients enhances their reputation, making them appear more credible to investors, too. (This was something I was comfortable writing about the bank 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 index funds to their portfolios. So, educating advisors on the support they could get from the bank to help sell 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. The position paper had to emphasize building trust with investors was essential and possible with the bank's products and its advisor support resources.
The Project Approach
I began by providing the member of the executive leadership team I worked with throughout the project an outline. It included citations from financial media recognized by advisors to support the concepts in my position paper. Because this position paper got offered in the bank's advisor newsletter as a content download, 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 a video by executives in the division offering the fund. Those elements could get used for other position paper promotions on the portal where advisors went to find educational and other materials.
The Intended Outcome
I wrote the position paper to help financial advisors understand the characteristics, preferences and needs of Generation X to better serve them. It also encouraged advisors to adopt new ideas and a business model the extended holistic services to generations younger than their traditionalist and boomer clients.
The position paper also provided the benefits of offering this index fund as a client solution in a wealth management environment that wasn't engendering confidence among investors. Recommending an ETF from a bank with an exceptional reputation for trustworthiness would build the same between investors and advisors.
The position paper showed the fund's advisors the bank would provide content that helps them with client retention, an issue of significant concern to wealth advisors. The advisors could incorporate information from the contents of position paper into their investor education and business development activities.
The bank client invested in the position paper to build trust with its wealth advisor clients. But, it had the dual purpose of providing methods for those advisors to enhance trust with their investor clients.
The investor portal also allowed advisors who were not bank ETF fund vendors to get access to advisor-specific content by creating an account or subscribing to the bank's advisor newsletter. 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, learn more about my expertise, then contact me. I offer a complimentary 30-minute introductory phone call to discuss your needs. Learn about that by reviewing my “Work Process” here.
(c) 2022-2023. Dahna M. Chandler for The Financial Communicator, Inc., a division of Thrive Media Consortium, Inc. All rights reserved. This case story may not be reproduced or reposted in whole or in part without express written permission of the author.