The future's Bright, the Future's Orange? 

An interesting day in London at a Crystal Ball Gazing Workshop.  Breathe easy dear readers, I have not decided to jack in a lifetime in financial services for a career as a fairground fortune-teller.  And rest assured I’ve not got any paranormal insights into which fund managers will out-perform over the next decade or which markets will prove better or worse. 
What I HAD in fact hoped for, given its sub-title of ‘not really a workshop, more a conversation with people who care about the future of advice’ was, firstly, a conversation and secondly, a consideration of the future of advice.  On that basis, the event failed to deliver, but it did give rise to some fascinating and quite futuristic discussions afterwards!!

I have heard Magnus Lindqvist speak.  He is a ‘trend-spotter and futurologist’.  I have heard Neil Harbisson speak.  He cannot see colour but created an antenna which translates colour frequencies into sound frequencies, so he hears colour.  These are people who think beyond the boundaries of what we know or assume or take for granted. 

The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 age group.  If you assume that the majority of your clients are in this age group then around 11% of them are using Twitter.  Twitter reports that almost half of its users worldwide prefer to read, rather than send out tweets themselves. 

40% of users worldwide use Twitter as a “curated news feed of updates that reflect their passions”. So, a significant proportion of your audience are never going to respond to you, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t absorbing your content.

What about Facebook? Around 40% of survey respondents in the 55-64 age group used Facebook.  And if you’re one of those people who says “my clients are too old to do that sort of thing” then be aware that 1 in 5 respondents aged 65+ were using Facebook. 

Marketing gurus will tell you that the biggest mistake businesses make is to assume that all their future clients will look like all their existing clients, designing products and services that, by default, become extinct as the user group ages and dies.  We create products and services for parents and grand-parents but ignore what the next generation want now, or might want in the future.  And by the time they inherit that wealth these younger investors will have already built valuable long-term relationships with others who were better at reading the tea-leaves and delivering services that they want, interacting in ways that they want. 

But younger social media users are already moving on the “the next big thing” – which is what?

Don’t ask me, I’m not 18-24 and I’m not a futurologist.  But if you want to future-proof your business maybe you should ask the people who know what they might want from financial planning right now … and plan to change this around six or seven times before they inherit, but acquire them as clients now, before they start doing business with someone else who IS listening to the future.
Gill Cardy, 20/06/2014