In this article, the final installment of a 3-part feature series, Rocco Taglioni shares methods of approaching Generation X and attracting members of this increasingly important market to your business.

In this Generation X series, I’ve discussed who they are, what they want, what they need from you, and how they compare to the boomers. To close out this series, I’d like to share some methods you can use to approach this demographic — the future of your business.

I use the term “future” because a recent survey revealed that close to 70% of Gen Xers do not currently work with an advisor.1 So, how can you connect with this 35- to 50-year-old demographic?

Mind the generation gap by talking with Gen Xers about the things that are important to most people: their families, homes, careers and short-term goals. Talk with them about their vision of retirement and what kind of legacy they want to leave to those who matter most. Remember: we’re all connected and prospective Gen X clients might be closer than you think.

You could start with current clients, their relatives and their children.

Have you asked your older clients if they have children in their thirties and forties who need help managing their financial affairs?

In a previous article, I pointed out that:

  • 65% of clients’ children have never met their parents’ advisor.2
  • 49% of children who inherit wealth leave their parents’ advisor.3

By helping your current clients start estate and wealth transfer conversations with their children, which might include Gen X, you can strengthen current relationships, build new ones, and remove some financial uncertainty, so the experience of dealing with a death in the family is less financially stressful during that difficult time. Ensuring that families remain whole and harmonious after parents pass away will help you earn the respected position of the trusted family financial advisor. If you want to learn more about Sun Life Financial’s wealth and estate planning initiatives and resources, please talk with, or send an email to, a Sun Life Sales Director.

Host events focused on Gen X priorities

You could hold a seminar in an area that has a high concentration of schools, especially elementary schools. Managing their debt, lowering the amount of tax they pay, and investing for their children’s education awaken interest in this group.

Create a presence on social media

Gen Xers expect the convenience of always on, access anywhere. They value technology as a tool to help them get what they want, and for most Gen Xers, it’s a necessary part of their professional and personal lives.

Did you know?

Facebook – 31% of users are 35-54 years old4

Twitter – 20% of users are 30-49 years old4

LinkedIn – 27% of users are 30-49 years old4; this network is most popular with middle-aged Canadians (Gen X, 45-54 years old)5

Social media plays a key role in their lives. The following tips will help you connect with Gen Xers:

  • Let friends and family know that you’re on social media for business, and ask them to follow your pages. Reach out to existing clients to let them know you’re now on social media.
  • Clients can connect with you to stay in touch between meetings and to see relevant, helpful content. Let them know during a meeting, or reach out through email and include links to your social business pages.
  • Search for centres of influence in your community — local mortgage brokers, lawyers, real estate agents — and invite them to connect.
  • Define your target audience and think about what they’re interested in; for example, find local groups, sports teams, clubs, university alumni groups and neighbourhood groups, and join the conversation.
  • Engage and comment on other people’s posts to increase your exposure on their networks. Make it genuine: don’t push a hard-sale on social media.

And don’t forget to go mobile. Today, most mobile devices are capable of accessing the mobile web.6 It’s the norm for Gen Xers to handle their financial needs on the go through their mobile devices, taking advantage of constant and instantaneous connection.

Use the following topics to generate conversations with Gen Xers about their financial needs and provide solutions to help them reach their goals.

Pensions – workplace matching programs

Ask your Gen X clients if they’re taking advantage of their employers’ matching workplace pension/savings programs. Don’t be surprised if you receive a “What’s that?” response. Our research shows that as much as $3-billion is left on the table each year by employees not taking advantage of corporate pension plans and their contribution-matching programs.7 Gen Xers who start receiving these matching dollars now — even if it’s a 50% match — will have many years to make this extra money grow. My colleague Thomas Reid, Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services, puts it succinctly: “If your company is willing to match dollar for dollar or 50 cents on the dollar for the contributions you put in, you should put in as much as they let you.”

Saving for children’s education

If Gen X clients have children, but haven’t started an RESP, this is a great opportunity to educate them about the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The federal government will match 20% of what your clients put in, up to $500 per year to a lifetime maximum of $7,200 for each child. Use the RESP calculator to see how much money they’ll need for their child’s post-secondary education.

Saving for a short-term goal or covering an emergency expense

Gen Xers can benefit from what a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) has to offer, regardless of their income or financial goals. A TFSA is a great way for them to save their money and see their savings grow tax-free. It can be an integral part of their financial plan, whether they’re saving for a first home, renovating a current home, buying appliances, or building a fund for a vacation or a rainy day. They can also use a TFSA to save for their kids’ education. It doesn’t have the same restrictions as an RESP, and they can access funds if something unexpected comes up; for example, kids’ braces or orthodontic work.

Buying their first home

Do your Gen X clients know about the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)? Housing is expensive across Canada, but interest rates for mortgages are also the lowest levels they’ve been in years. Now could be the right time to make the leap into home ownership. They can withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year from their RRSPs to buy or build a qualifying home for themselves or a relative with a disability.

Protecting their homes

One of the best ways to protect a mortgage is with term insurance. Show your Gen X clients that unlike insurance from a lending institution, term insurance from a life insurance company gives:

  • Choice – beneficiaries can use the death benefit to pay down a mortgage, as well as other debts — it’s their decision.
  • Stability – as the mortgage balance decreases, the amount of coverage stays the same — even if your clients pay off their mortgage.
  • Flexibility – if your clients change mortgage lenders, the coverage remains in place.

Protecting their families

You know that insurance premiums are often lower when clients are younger. That’s true for term or permanent life insurance. Now might be the time to talk to Gen X clients about purchasing permanent insurance that will last as long as they live, regardless of any changes to their health. You can also discuss participating life insurance. Their policy may be credited with dividends, which may be used to buy additional coverage, reduce their annual premium, receive a cash payment or earn interest. How much life insurance is enough? Help your clients fill in income, assets, debts and expenses on this calculator to find out.

Protecting their assets and lifestyles

In addition to life insurance, look at your Gen X clients’ health insurance. By diverting a small amount of retirement savings to pay for critical illness insurance, clients can use the Asset Protection Strategy to help preserve their lifestyle by ensuring their retirement savings are protected. Many Gen Xers also don’t have enough disability insurance to cover expenses, if they weren’t able to work because of an accident or injury.

Saving for retirement

The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) deadline for the 2014 taxation year is long past, and many of your clients won’t be thinking about an RRSP contribution until next February. This is your chance, however, to change that last-minute behaviour. If any of your Gen X clients aren’t making monthly contributions, encourage them to start — even if it’s a small amount. (Many of this generation grew up reading The Wealthy Barber and will be familiar with this concept.) Establish the savings habit now, and they can increase the amount in later years as their income increases. Show them the power of compound interest and the timeline for their savings to grow.

Over 7-million Canadians — 1 out of every 5 — belong to Gen X.8 They’re technically savvy, mobile, using social media, paying off mortgages, saving for their kids’ education and their own retirement — and they need your trusted advice. Start talking with them about their families, homes, finances, careers, shorter-term goals and vision of retirement. The business opportunities won’t be far behind.

Our 3-part series on Gen X

  • If you haven’t read Part I of this series, you can learn more about Gen Xers and what they need from you.
  • In Part II of our Gen X series, we compare Gen X to the boomer generation and show why Gen Xers would value advice from you, even more than their parents.

If you have ideas about how to approach and successfully help Gen X or other groups of your client base, please send an email or talk to a member of Sun Life Financial’s Sales Team.

You might also like…

1 2015 Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index

2 MFS Investing Sentiment Survey, (US), April 2013.

3 Navigating to tomorrow: Serving clients and creating value. PwC, Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Report, June 2013.

4 Jetscram, Social Media User Statistics & Age Demographics for 2014, October 20, 2014.

5 “2015 Canadian Social Media Usage Statistics,” Canadian’s Business.


7 “Canadians miss out on billions of free retirement money,” Canadian Press, June 18, 2015.

8 Estimates of population, by age group and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces, and territories; CANSIM table 051-0001, Statistics Canada, 2014.

Rocco Taglioni, Senior Vice-President, Head of Distribution, Individual Insurance and Wealth, is responsible for the overall leadership of Sun Life Financial’s distribution organizations across its Retail business in Canada. His role encompasses the leadership of the distribution company, as President Sun Life Financial Distributors Inc., as well as the Insurance and Wealth wholesaling sales organizations. Through the various leadership teams he oversees the development, direction, and execution of the Distribution strategies centered on wealth management, protection, retirement, and estate and financial planning.

Since joining Sun Life in 2004, Rocco has held various executive leadership roles, including Vice-President Business Development, Group Benefits; Head of Individual Wealth Management; Senior-Vice-President, Client Solutions; and most recently Senior Vice-President, Distribution and Marketing, Individual Insurance and Wealth. Throughout his tenure at Sun Life, Rocco has led various business strategies centered on building, transforming, and evolving organizations and teams to drive higher levels of performance and success.

Rocco has 36 years of experience in strategic leadership in the insurance and investment industries. He has served on and is a member of a number of boards. Rocco is currently President and Chair, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. board. He is a member of various industry associations, including Advocis, GAMA Canada, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management.

Rocco holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from York University.