By Cyril Tuohy
Reaching ethnic markets requires financial advisors to approach African-American, Asian and Hispanic households using a different marketing lens.
This week’s tips for how advisors might want to target their business come courtesy of George H. Walper Jr., president of the consulting firm Spectrem Group in Lake Forest, Ill.
African-Americans are less confident than other ethnic segments in their ability to plan for the future, and are therefore willing to credit their advisor for their successes, according to Walper, in a report on ethnic segmentation.
The African-American segment, the report said, is likely to remain loyal, “especially if advisor firms take the time to educate these individuals regarding investment strategies.”
African-American households, the report also said, “do not like being involved in investing on a regular basis and are likely to turn over their entire portfolio should they find an advisor or advisory firms they trust.”
Since the African-American segment is more likely than the Asian or Hispanic segments to be concerned about having saved enough and about debt issues, advisors should approach African-American households with a plan to pay off debt and boost savings, the report noted.
Given the conservatism with which this segment invests, advisors need to encourage African-Americans to invest more of their portfolio in stocks to meet their long-term needs, according to the report, part of Spectrem’s “2014 Ethnic Segmentation Series.”
With as much as three-quarters of this investor segment preferring guaranteed returns, the chances are they are open to discussing annuities. “You could conclude that that would be something for an advisor to talk to them about,” Walper said in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet.
Takeaways: Advisory firms should highlight “trust” and “ease” when targeting the African-American segment.
Asian households, by contrast, are more aggressive with their investments, have a higher tolerance for risk, and are most likely to be self-directed when it comes to investing and financial planning, the report found.
Asian households are more likely to be involved in investing and planning, and almost half of Asian households surveyed enjoy investing, the report said. Some households may even consider financial advisors as a “necessary evil.”
Since Asian households are knowledgeable about investing and planning, they tend to seek out more specialized investments with the growth of their portfolios. As a result, advisors should be prepared to offer “in-depth and additional information to these investors regarding specific questions and issues,” the report said.
The depth of the research will help advisors establish a level of credibility with Asian households, Walper said.
Asian families are concerned about aging parents, the report said.
Why Asians are more self-directed than other ethnic groups when it comes to investing isn’t altogether clear, Walper said. “All I can say is what the research said and Asians are willing to take more risk to get higher returns.”
Hispanic households bring their own dynamic to the financial advisor party, the research revealed. They are on the other side of the spectrum from self-directed Asian households in that Hispanic investors are most likely to seek the help of a financial advisor.
“They are also the most likely to be concerned about receiving adequate advice to meet their financial goals,” the report said.
A separate study of Hispanic households by Prudential published earlier this year found that Latino households are heavily matriarchal when it comes to financial advice.
George Castineiras, senior vice president of Total Retirement Solutions for Prudential Retirement, said that when approaching Hispanic households, financial advisors have to include a woman, “the gatekeeper, in the equation at all times.”
“That’s the individual that connects multiple generations, not just her own family,” he said during a forum on the Hispanic market held earlier this year. “You get that gatekeeper and you gain their trust. It opens up a network far bigger than just their own family.”
Advisors looking to crack the Hispanic market should explain that ignoring small investment steps today could mean parents turning into a retirement burden for children later on, Castineiras said.
At that point a light bulb will go off and “then they’ll begin to think about it differently,” said Anna Cabral, unit chief for strategic communications in the External Relations Division of the Inter-American Development Bank.
The takeaway when marketing to Hispanic households, said Walper at Spectrem Group is, “Be sure to advertise and market your expertise within these communities.”
Data used in the Spectrem report was collected from surveys of 113 African-American, 120 Hispanic and 434 Asian investors conducted between December 2013 and February 2014.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at email@example.com.
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