Many brokers have significant and valuable tenure in the industry, but there’s a new cohort of brokers on the scene - and they’re using social media as their main source of income.
“Gen Z and Millennials are absolutely shaping the way things are being done,” said Grant Armstrong, director of national sales at Community Trust. “They’re embracing new tools and they’re changing the fundamental way people want to work.”
Millennials - defined as the demographic cohort born between 1981 and 1996 - today account for a large chunk of the marketplace and over the next five to 10 years it’s estimated they’ll make up 60%-70% of the workforce. Generation Z is not far behind, encompassing those born between the mid-to-late 90s and early 2010s. These groups are coming in raised on technology, and fluent in social media.
“Facebook, Instagram, TikTok — they’re the new methods of communication and the new methods of marketing,” Armstrong noted.
They’re also walking into a market where alternative lending is more mainstream than it was in their parents’ day, for example. Twenty years ago, alt lending was a very small portion of the market, where today it’s a critical part of the marketplace.
“Alt lending is a normal part of the day-to-day business operation,” Armstrong said, noting the newer generations are making sure it’s an equal player in their business model.
“While the more tenured brokers have embraced alt lending over the years, it was a newer thing to them and they had to transition their business to include it,” he said. “The next generation automatically embrace it from day one.”
Gen Z and Millennial clients are also blazing their own trails as they’re more likely to be self-employed, and the gig economy is a big source of their income - a large number don’t have those traditional Monday to Friday, 9-5 career paths. Armstrong said they’re seeing clients that are doing their business completely online, and “social media influencer” is a new job title.
“They’re adapting to the alt space because they require lenders that will look beyond traditional income sources and capture the uniqueness of their income streams,” he said.
Community Trust’s digital tools and initiatives also take into account the uniqueness of the newer generations that live on technology, but although they may be more easily embraced by Millennials and Gen Zs, Armstrong wouldn’t say the company builds its tool kit around that – it builds it around enabling “all brokers and all business partners to have the best-in-class technology to support them, bringing the best tools to help provide the best experiences to their clients.”
Education is also a large focus for Community Trust, and while the training plan traditionally would have been focused around in-person meetings and in-office presentations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic educational offerings are only online right now. Looking post-pandemic, Community Trust will continue to consistently provide those in-person methods but also augment them with online opportunities. What the Gen Zs and Millennials have brought to the table, Armstrong noted, is the need “to make sure we’re considering multiple streams of training in our future planning.”
Community Trust’s new online broker hub, Community Trust Cafe, offers a unique opportunity for brokers to log in and select the training they want and “while we think everyone is going to be able to do it, we do think Gen Z and Millennials will gravitate to it faster,” Armstrong said.
While Community Trust always has an eye on what’s coming down the pipe when it comes to changes in the market, and will adjust accordingly, the company also knows its best-in-class products and tried-and-true processes are timeless.
“Our support, our tools, our product can be used by everybody regardless of generation,” said Armstrong. “Gen Z, Millennials, Gen Y, Boomers - doesn’t matter, our products and our processes are there to support. We will consistently change to support all.”