How to be a financial services business that gets Gen-Z

Move over, Boomers. It’s time to engage the next generation of investors and planners.

All the stereotypes you’ve heard about Gen-Z are true.

They’ve never known life without a smartphone, so are constantly glued to it. You don’t need to read the WHO data to know that over half are online ‘almost constantly’ and a quarter of the under 25’s spend more than 10 hours on their phone every day. Their addiction to YouTube and TikTok means they’ll spend about six years of their life on social media.

But there’s a lot more to this generation than we give them credit for, especially when it comes to finances.

Like the fact they're more engaged with financial matters than we think. They’ve also got the fastest-growing income and are taking proactive steps to build their wealth. Compared to Millennials, a higher percentage of Gen Z’ers have already begun investing.

That might well have something to do with the aforementioned TikTok, where the hashtag #investing racked up over 3.3bn views last year. Around 1 in 6 British 18-23 year-olds invested for the first time in 2021, with more than half saying they followed investment advice from social media. 

This powerful and influential generation could become the wealthiest

What an opportunity for financial services professionals that are ready to engage.

They are ready to engage, right?


‘No’, says Upfront podcast guest Martin Bamford - a chartered financial planner and content creator who knows all the tricks to build a good following on social media.

He says retail financial services have ‘had it good’ dealing with the post-war retiring baby boomer generation but now face a challenge to understand the younger generation's different values, behaviours and emotions - and it’s a case of do or die.

If you’re more familiar with dealing with Gen-Z’s parents or grandparents, you’re going to need some help. Luckily, we hit up Martin - winner of Best Social Media IFA - to extract some golden advice to help financial services businesses win the attention and affection of the next generation of planners and investors. And yes, you’re going to have to start liking social media.


Gen-Z will soon make up 40% of the population, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to lean in because they’re your next big thing, says Martin. 

“For the past decade or longer, most people in financial services have been dealing with the retiring baby boomer population, but that time is sadly coming to an end. We’ve got to now look down the generations and think, where are the next opportunities? Where are the next client segments? And we’ve got to start looking now.” 

You shouldn’t have to look too far to find them. They’re all on social media. So Martin has some advice to help you get on it too.

“There’s no magic formula. You’ve got to feel your way a bit and look for inspiration from others within and outside the sector. Pick one form of content creation like podcasting or video, and get really comfortable with it. See what works for you and what resonates with your audience.”

Nervous? Don’t worry, so was Martin when he first started blogging over 20 years ago 

(and he’s since made over 600 episodes of his Informed Choice Radio podcast).

“Don’t be fearful of it; you will get it wrong, but that’s ok. When I listen back to my earlier content, it’s terrible. But only by doing that earlier, terrible content do I improve and hone my skills over time. The more you do, the easier it gets. You’ve got to start somewhere, and the best time to start is now because you can’t go back in time and start then.”

And the biggest risk if you don’t?

‘Extinction’, says Martin.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.


This isn’t a time for half-hearted, half-baked approaches. If you’re going do social media, do it right, says Martin, who was one of - if not the first - financial planners in the UK to start a blog and a podcast.

“It can't just be a case of, well, we'll do it once, and if it doesn't get immediate results, we’ll say it didn't work and that it's not for us. It's got to be consistent. It's got to be creative, it's got to speak in that right tone of voice - and it's got to be multi-platform. You can't just pick one social media platform channel like Instagram and think that's enough to be future-proof.” 

Clearly you need to be in it for the long haul, so what advice does Martin have for financial advisers and financial planners struggling to find the time and motivation to do social media properly?

“You should be spending almost a day a week on this stuff, if not more. Carve out some time every week. When you’ve been doing it consistently for a year, three years, five years, you’re going to start to grow that audience and see results from it.”

So hang on in there. Or find someone to do it for you.

You can't just pick one social media platform like Instagram and think that's enough to be future-proof.


“To be ready for this next generation of consumers, you’ve got to understand what this generation is interested in, what drives them, what turns them on”, says Martin.

That’s unlikely to be a 50-year-old man doing TikTok dances in a suit.

“Don’t ape or copy what’s going on in other social media trends”, says Martin. “There’s a real risk to that. You’ve got to be authentic; you’ve got to be yourself. Don’t dress up for it, and don’t try to project an image that isn’t the real you. Authentic content resonates best with any viewer, any listener on social media.”

If you’ve earned a living as a dancing financial planner, all credit to you. The rest of you need to find a balance. 

“We’ve got to be professional, but at the same time, we’ve got to be approachable and friendly. If you can strike that balance, fantastic. Social media is about branding, and we should be very clear about our brand image and how the brand works on different social media channels without being ridiculed or risking looking silly and diluting our professionalism. Look at what’s trending and try to understand why it’s trending and how you can adapt those trends to your brand.”

Sea shanty, anyone?


When it comes to content creation, don’t make the mistake that Martin did.

“Be really clear about your target audience before you make your content, so you are creating content that speaks directly to them. I didn't do that and made content I was interested in.”

Not that it turned out badly for Martin, who now runs a successful content agency, Bear content.

“I took the view that if I’m interested in stuff then hopefully the clients that we’re working with will be interested too. And, because of the communication channels we use - the podcast, videos, social media platforms, it naturally started appealing to the next generations - our clients’ children mainly.” 

For Martin, when it comes to building an audience, there’s no such thing as getting too personal: “I’ve gone so far as taking people’s phones off them and subscribing them to the podcast.” (We have to admit to doing the same for Upfront).


So you know what channels you want to focus on and who you’re doing it for. Now what? Where do the ideas come from to keep fueling the social media machine?

That’s the easy part, says Martin.

“One approach I take with a lot of my content creation is newsjacking, so I look at what's happening in the world and provide some commentary around it. There's always stuff to talk about. That's the lovely thing about the world of money and life.  You can listen to the news over breakfast and come up with three to five different bits of content. 

You can also try the good old Q&A.

“Invariably, when somebody discovers you’re a financial planner, they'll ask you a question about money. It's a bit like if you're a doctor and people ask you about ailments. Listen to the questions your clients, friends and family ask, make a note of them and create pieces of content that answer the questions. It's a really effective approach because if somebody types that question into Google and your content is the best answer to that question, that’s what Google or YouTube will present to them, and that’s how you get discovered.” 

And here’s the really clever thing:

“It’s a great timesaver. For example, people often ask me, ‘how do I become a financial planner?’ - I must’ve been asked 50 or 100 times, and I thought, there’s a piece of content in this. I can make that piece of content once and use it to answer that question every time I’m asked it.”  



It’s a shame that the fear factor has held a lot of financial planners and advisers back from fully embracing social media. Being overly cautious about the risks and whether they’re doing the right thing has allowed so-called ‘Finfluencers’ to sneak in where financial services professionals could and should be serving.  But it’s not too late for them to get in on the act - and act they must. 

By being upfront about the urgent need to start engaging with Gen-Z, we hope that more financial services businesses can stop worrying and overthinking and start experimenting on social media. If financial services businesses want to be part of the younger generation’s lives, they have to make social media part of their business too. Gen-Z is there, ready and waiting. There’s nothing to lose, so get on and do it!

Listen to the Ok, Zoomer episode of the Upfront podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.