For young male financial advisors, a youthful appearance isn’t always an asset.
Over the years, I’ve been to many financial services conferences. Most were hosted by an advisor’s broker-dealer, RIA or sponsor. Generally, I’d see two attendee demographics: old advisors and young advisors. Sure, there were others, but I didn’t notice them as much.
When I’d see an older advisor, I’d think: I can’t hire him/her, they’re retiring before me. Then, I’d see a younger advisor and think: No way, I can’t hire a kid.
Are you a kid? Of course not.
But, understand what Gen X and other older individual investors see — someone who looks like a kid.
The aging process is a strange one.
For me, I recognize I’m getting older. Most days I’m perfectly fine with it, aside from a few unwanted aches and pains. However, what is most evident during this aging process is how much younger people look to me. This impression creates a warped sense of age interpretation, i.e., if you’re 28, you look 18.
Therefore, as a young male advisor, most woman age 50+ will view you as being far younger than you actually are, creating a credibility problem for you.
Here are 5 ways to overcome this form of age discrimination:
(Note: I’ll discuss young female financial advisors in a future post.)
#1 — Be Aware of Your Attire
Currently, the look for many young professional men is a thinner, tighter pant leg. Many men look great wearing this style.
However, here’s the rub: Those older than you notice that you look different. Overall, this fitted style highlights your youthfulness. Therefore, prospects may misconstrue your financial knowledge and expertise, possibly assuming you’re too young to possess any.
Am I suggesting you dress like your grandfather?
Instead, I’m recommending that you reflect upon how your target audience interprets your personal style. Also, I’m not suggesting you be someone you’re not. Rather, I’m simply pointing out how some older individuals with substantial financial assets may perceive you.
In particular, older women have more of a tendency to notice these dressy details.
#2 — Grow a Beard or Goatee
If you’re especially young looking, grow a beard or goatee. It’ll make you appear older. Also, keep it well groomed, since unkempt facial hair projects disorganization, lowering credibility, i.e., if you don’t have time to trim your beard, how could you possibly have time to manage investments?
(For older advisors, a beard can help you look younger, since it covers up facial aging.)
Keep in mind that many women prefer men with beards. You’re not looking for a date. Instead, you’re looking to boost credibility by looking older. In turn, prospects will assume you have more retirement planning and money management experience. This Psychology Today article highlights basic facial hair preference facts and references to back up the claim: women like beards.
I’ll add myself and my Gen-X girlfriends to this beard-liking statistic. Specifically, my husband and almost all of my closest friends’ significant others have beards or goatees. Why, because they’re sexy and exude confidence. You’re aiming for the latter.
#3 — Recognize How You Socialize
Let’s say you’re at a large graduation party with varying age groups and viable opportunities to make connections with wealthy prospects.
If you surround yourself with your “young cousins,” maybe because you legitimately enjoy these individuals or perhaps you have more in common with them, whatever the reasons, those age 50+ will view your approach as an inability to socialize with people a lot older than you.
This lack of social circulation emphasizes your youth. Again, youth is not always an asset when trying to get across the fact that you’re a knowledgeable financial advisor. Therefore, when socializing, circulate among generations.
As an aside, the same can be said for older advisors not socializing with those younger. For example, older advisors unable to easily communicate with their clients’ young adult children.
#4 — Identify What Your Target Audience Enjoys
For me, it’s my work and kids. Sure, I have other interests. Still, similar to most of my peers, my life is all about my work and my kids.
Overall, it’s important to be comfortable speaking with older women regarding their:
- Passions, e.g., rock climbing, volunteering, etc.
- Business Ownership(s)
- Financial Tendencies
The key is to get women talking about what’s most important to them, deepening the bond between the two of you.
RELATED: One way to understand what women in their fifties are thinking is to read what they read. I highly recommend Waking Up in Winter by Cheryl Richardson. It’ll provide a young male financial advisor an inside view into what women are searching for upon reaching middle age.
#5 — Send Handwritten Notes
I cannot stress this enough: Gen X and older females were raised during a time when people actually sent notes that were delivered by a postal worker. (We also called people to say “thank you” rather than doing so by text or email.)
To elevate yourself with 50-year-old females and older, use this medium repeatedly. I understand you’ve known the Internet most of your life. However, this is not true for those a fair amount older than you. Therefore, you can quickly align with individuals older than you by using what is now considered an old-fashioned, yet endearing, communication tool.
Here’s a short list of excuses to send notes:
- Thank You
- Nice Meeting You
- Get Well
- Welcome Grandchild
- Young Adult Child Graduated
- Congratulations: Award, Completed Goal, New Job, New Home, Retirement
- Interesting Article
In closing, if you’re a particularly young financial advisor, it’s important not to view prospects as old.
Because, by categorizing people as “old,” you’ll likely make inaccurate lifestyle and emotional assumptions about them and, therefore, lose out on managing their assets.
The aging process is a strange one. In fact, on any given day many people age 50+ don’t know their age. Personally, on more than one occasion I’ve had to do the math. Said differently, as we age, our age becomes irrelevant.
Therefore, this time-honored saying holds true: You’re as old as you feel.
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By Sharron Senter
Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting.
Independently Yours, Sharron