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Become influential in a risk based environment

06 October 2016 Jonathan Faurie

Millennials are often described in one of two ways. They are either described as the client of the future who cannot be ignored, or they are described as disrupters – clients who will disrupt your business. Doing this is dangerous as you are putting Millennials in mutually exclusive boxes, and you will find it hard to disassociate them from these boxes once you figure out that you cannot do without them.

Defining characteristics

Before looking at characteristics that define Millennials, we need to understand the world that they live in. This is a population that has grown up in the connected age where there was at least one computer or laptop in the home. They grew up in the age of the internet which brought the world into your living room, and they now interact with the world through smart devices which have a permanent connection to the world around them.

Because of this, Millennials are used to instant gratification; they are educated and are prepared to double check the advice given to them by searching information on the internet. They live in a world driven by social media as much as they live in a world that is not driven by social media. Finally, they want communication to happen on their terms. They will tell you when they want to interact with you and over what medium the interaction will take place.

Become influential

The key to success is that Millennials need to be seen as both important future clients and as disrupters. So how do brokers become influential people in a risk based environment?

Speaking at the recently held Institute of Risk Management South Africa Annual Conference, Bonolo Sekhukhune – Head: Communication and Integrated Operational Risk at Standard Bank – said that establishing context is important when dealing with this client base.

“When dealing with people, it is important to set the scene. Never go straight into the heart of the issue. Work your way towards it. Also, you need to remember that Millennials will always ask you what is in it for them. You need to get people to listen to your message first and accept your product later,” said Sekhukhune.

An advocate of change

Another defining aspect of Millennials is their sense of purpose. They feel that their existence here on earth is for a specific purpose and that they want to create a legacy through their interaction with the world. What does this mean for the broker?

“When you interact with a client, you need to understand that the interaction is not about you, but about the cause that you stand for. In the case of a broker it is offering clients appropriate cover which would protect them in unforeseen circumstances,” said Sekhukhune.

She adds that to achieve this, repetition is key; repeat the message in a different manner to slowly get to the core of the issue.

Communicate early and often

While repetition is key, it is important to note that this is different to communicating on a frequent basis. Consistency and communicating with a client through a preferred medium will see a broker reap rewards.

This makes sense if we consider how much time Millennials spend on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

One of the characteristics that brokers have in common with BREAK clients is that they want to be reassured that the products that they are purchasing (or the service that they are being offered) is the best product or service to suit their needs. Through increasing your online presence, you can build up a reputation of a knowledgeable industry professional by giving open and uncandid advice on the products and services available in the industry.

No perfect answer

One of the biggest challenges brokers face is that the nature of their business is defined by human interaction; and because of this, there is no text book approach on how to deal with clients.

Dealing with Millennials is no different. Clients want consistency when it comes to communication, but they want communication on their own terms through channels they prefer. Social media is a key channel that they use, but where does the line exist. When does a broker send them a direct message or tag them into a post? How do they know what a client wants and what they don’t want? Using these tactics in combination is the answer to this equation, but it needs to be done to suit the client. And no two clients are the same.  

Editor’s Thoughts:
It is obvious that the rule book has been thrown out of the window long ago. It continues to dawn on me that brokers need to be psychologists as well as psychics who need to look into a crystal ball when it comes to deciding on what clients want. Do you have any thoughts following interactions with clients, specifically Millennials? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

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