As more millennials stream into the workplace, seasoned financial advisors can look to their younger colleagues for insights into ways of connecting with members of this generation.
Through "reverse mentoring" — pairing up with someone younger — you can broaden both your skill set and your social network to reach the next generation.
Unless baby-boomer advisors make the effort to understand the younger cohort, they will keep relying on the same batch of clients for leads.
"Boomer advisors tend to stick with the same generation," says Evan Thompson, founder and business coach with Evan Thompson and Associates in Toronto. "They keep reshuffling the same deck of cards, trying to keep those relationships as warm as they can, while ignoring this surging population born in 1984 or later."
Here's how you can make reverse mentoring work for you — and your mentor:
> Treat it as a two-way exchange
Younger mentors can offer a window into what makes their generation tick, Thompson says. A younger colleague can help you use social media, and dispel misconceptions you might have about his or her fellow millennials. They can offer invaluable advice on how to establish meaningful connections with your clients' younger family members.
For the mentor/mentee relationship to flourish, Thompson says, it has to be a two-way exchange of ideas and advice. Just as you shouldn't try too hard to impress younger clients, your younger mentor could learn from you about building a rapport with clients of your generation.
> Focus on knowledge
Back in the day, Thompson says, mentors would treat mentees to a round of golf to chat about the markets and perhaps offer up a referral or two. But those days are over.
Now, mentor/mentee relationships are built on an exchange of knowledge. While your mentor will appreciate receiving a referral, most are looking for thoughtful advice that will help them throughout their career.
For example, instead of discussing how to talk up certain products with clients, you might offer advice on how to illustrate the benefits of creating a financial plan.
> Step outside your social network
Community events, professional associations and recreational clubs offer an opportunity to mingle with people who share common interests, but who are outside your familiar realm.
These types of groups and activities attract people across various generations. By attending, you might find a potential mentor or encounter people interested in your work, Thompson says. But, he adds, it's not enough to make an appearance. You have to connect with new people who are different — in age group and areas of interest, for example — from the type of people you normally interact with.
Connecting with people is as simple as listening, Thompson says. "Become interested in the people, and they will share more with you. It's called expanding your sphere of knowledge and influence."
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