As someone who has been in the financial services industry for many years, I can acknowledge that change is constant. Having started my career at a time before the internet, calendars were kept on paper by one’s assistant. To schedule a meeting with a client or another professional one called the other person’s assistant. Clearly this was not efficient and belonged to another timeframe. As we moved forward and could use online calendars, life became more efficient. Meetings were set up via email. One would email an executive or client or his/her assistant and find out when that individual was available. Meeting invitations were sent out electronically and accepted. This is still the most common way to schedule a meeting.
Recently I have been subjected to a new way to schedule a meeting. I’ve been told “put yourself on my calendar”. To be honest, the first time I was told this it was by a Millennial that I had never met and who knew nothing about me. Now, granted, I’m not the chairman of a Fortune 500 company but I do feel a little bit of respect is due....regardless of who I am. I put myself on the individual’s calendar, showed up at the designated meeting spot, and the guy never showed up. That was my first experience with the “put yourself on my calendar” trend.
I'm all for efficiency and I also know that younger generations handle communications differently than older generations. Spectrem Group recently asked investors how they felt about this trend. Overall, only 8% of investors indicated that they have scheduled a meeting using that person's calendar to set up the appointment. The differences by age, however, were significant. Seventeen percent of investors under the age of 38 have used this feature compared to only 7% of those between the ages of 39-54, 8% of investors between the ages of 55-73 and 5% of those over age 74.
There are also differences based upon wealth. Twelve percent of investors with $100,000-499,000 of net worth have used this feature. Thirteen percent of those with $3 million to $5 million are comfortable scheduling themselves on someone’s calendar as well as 12% of those with $10-15 million.
What do financial advisors need to learn from this research?
1. Keep in mind that your client believes their time is as important as your time. While most investors understand that financial advisors are busy, many may be offended by this approach.
2. Younger investors are more likely to feel comfortable scheduling themselves on your calendar. Generational differences are significant. This may be the most efficient manner to schedule meetings in the future, but financial advisors may want to be followers rather than leaders in this practice. If you have clients that want to use this approach, however, make sure it is available to them.
3. Balancing the "old-fashioned" way to set up meetings to the new electronic way will have to be the norm in the upcoming years. Some investors will never be comfortable with this methodology while others may demand it. Financial advisors need to balance both.
As the financial services industry continues to change, it is critical to understand how investors want to adapt to new practices. In the end, the customer comes first.