I wrote the lead article on “Marketing to the elderly” in Private Client Adviser magazine back in September 2008 http://www.privateclientadviser.co.uk/feature/financial-planning/cover-story-marketing-legal-services-grey-market and have worked with the private client teams of many law firms since then. So it was nice to be invited to address accountants on the subject at the “Elderly Client” conference for Offa in Hereford this week,

Marketing to the elderly is a big topic, so I focused on three areas: Analysis and segmentation, service adaptation and routes to market.


Most firms are good at analysing their client portfolios and identifying the nature of their elderly clients and the source of their work. But sometimes external analysis is neglected which can be important for your segmentation strategy..

Size of the elderly market

The elderly market is not a homogenous market – it is many different markets. There are 10 million people in the UK over 65 years old. The latest projections are for over five million more elderly people in 20 years’ time and the number will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050.

Within this total, the number of very old people grows even faster. There are currently three million people aged over 80 years and this is projected to almost double by 2030 and reach eight million by 2050.  While one-in-six of the UK population is currently aged 65 and over, by 2050 one in-four will be. http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-for-the-new-parliament/value-for-money-in-public-services/the-ageing-population/

Wills, Probate and Inheritance tax (IHT)

In 2010-11 over a quarter of a million estates were notified for Probate and more than 15,000 were tax paying estates – approximately 3% of all deaths that year. Around 35% law firms undertook Probate and Estate Administration work in 2010-2011.

Treasury earnings from IHT jumped £400 million in 12 months. 17,900 bereaved families paid a combined £3.05 billion in 2012/13 – 15% more than in 2011/2012. They handed over an average of £170,000 with Government taking 40% of property and money above the £325,000 threshold (which is set to increase to £500,000 by 2017).

Mental Capacity

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are used where people lack mental capacity and need others to make decisions for them. Since October 2007, 82,580 Deputyships for property and affairs have been granted by the Court of Protection.

An army of carers

There are also over seven million carers in the UK – and Virgin launched a special on-line club or community for them in June this year. http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/its-time-to-care-for-carers

Which? has an excellent advice centre for those caring for older people too http://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care


There are further analyses that might help you identify a specific segment in order to adapt your services and lead in a particular niche.

ACORN segments

CACI’s A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods combines Census demographic data with property information. Two of its key elderly markets are Affluent Greys (7.9% of the UK market) and Prudent Pensioners (2.7% of the UK market). There are also sub-groups for elderly segments such as: Mature Money, Better off Villagers, Established Suburbs Older Families and Comfortable Seniors. 

Financially and digitally astute seniors

A recent report showed that seniors are the biggest fans of crowd funding – with over 12.5% of those visiting the crowd funding site being over 65 years http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/29954-older-demographics-are-the-biggest-fans-of-crowdfunding

A recent YouGov/KPMG report found that seniors were digitally astute too – 60% of 70+ feel positive about their finances, 42% feel positive about money to buy luxuries, over half of 70+ agree you don’t often see people their age in ad campaigns, tablet ownership is higher among the 55+ than under 55, 86% 55+ regularly shop on-line and 37% 70+ use online methods to find out more about food/household products https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/02/04/businesses-and-older-consumer-turning-silver-gold

Employment and businesses

Research from PwC suggested that women over 55 were best suited to lead transformational change in business and the Government has a champion for older workers. AgeUK recently reported on the rise of the olderpreneur and we should remember that McDonalds, Coca-Cola, KFC and Huffington Post were all started by entrepreneurs in their 50s.

Wealthy seniors

The average age of Britain’s millionaires is 55 compared to global average of 57. Old Mutual Wealth conducted research amongst 500 millionaires in June 2011 and found that 73% use some form of third party financial advice. Overall, accountants were the second most popular source of third party advice.

Adapting services

Once you have identified your target market, you will need to assess the needs of the clients so that you can adapt, bundle or develop your advice and services to meet those needs. Where you are not sure of the needs you might conduct some formal or informal research. This might form the basis of a thought leadership campaign (see below).

Beyond tax and estate planning, some firms provide specialist services – such as litigation or compensation for physical or emotional abuse and others provide forensic services for financial abuse and fraud.

Some firms specialise in providing services to organisations and individuals who support the elderly. Some firms add in other non-legal services – such as nursing, physiotherapy and rehabilitation – to provide a total solution.

Others may focus on the way in which the service is delivered – for example, by providing specialist meeting or communication facilities such as Braille documentation (see also, for example, The Law Society’s work on legal services for the deaf and hard of hearing http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/practice-notes/providing-services-to-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-people/)

To add credibility to your claims you might consider seeking accreditation with one of the many bodies who specialise in the elderly market – for example, Solicitors for the Elderly http://www.sfe.legal/ or Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA http://societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk/ which is primarily for IFAs).

Thought should also be given to how you might charge for and price your services as there may be issues with third parties or family members needing to pay fees while assets are inaccessible. Interestingly, while there are price comparisons for Probate services amongst banks and solicitors and on-line providers – there is little information about how accountants compare in this market.

Routes to market

Once you have identified your segment, understood the clients’ needs and adapted your service, it’s time to promote your services.

As with all professional services marketing, there are plenty of different approaches you can adopt. Naturally, you will create a campaign where you set out some objectives and build an integrated programme of activities against which you can measure your success over time (for campaign planning guidance see http://kimtasso.com/10-steps-to-create-a-business-development-campaign/)

Whilst I can’t address all possible routes to market I can highlight a couple of the main direct and indirect routes:

Web site

You will need to have specific pages of your web site describing the various segments and services you provide to the elderly. Make sure you use images that are appropriate for the segment you are targeting. And that you provide facilities to increase the font size or provide video and audio content where your target market may have sensory challenges.

Use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to make good use of key words so that you optimise your chances in the search engines. If you need fast results and have the budget, you might investigate a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign to get you started.

Produce a blog so that you provide regular information about issues for your target elderly group so that you support your SEO strategy and remain on the radar of both referrers and clients. Blogs are also important for use in your social media campaign.

You might also produce content in the form of newsletters, White Papers, infographics, advice notes and e-books which people can download from your web site. Capturing email addresses and permission will allow you to develop your own database for future communications.

Some advisers have developed successful on-line tax calculators and assessment tools and even mobile apps to provide another route to market.

Community relations

Those advisers established within smaller geographical communities may reach out through active participation in community programmes and events such as county fairs and country shows. Others may direct all of their charitable fund-raising activities to causes that support local elderly organisations. Others may dedicate Pro Bono (free) services to organisations supporting elderly clients. All manner of networking and face-to-face activity might be included in such programmes over a sustained period of time.

Referrer management

Often, elderly client markets will be reached through indirectly through intermediaries – whether these are other professionals such as accountants and lawyers, government and health agencies or third sector charities and not-for-profit organisations. I have written many blogs about referrer management strategies. Some firms provide web pages specifically targeted at their referrers and others provide joint events – such as seminars – with referrers.

Other firms may decide to collaborate with key referrers and provide an integrated service which they promote with joint marketing. For example, AgeUK works with Irwin Mitchell to provide legal services http://www.ageuk.org.uk/products/financial-products-and-services/legal-services/

Social Media

The information above shows that many elderly markets are quite happy to use digital channels and therefore social media may be appropriate but it is also an important tool for positioning your firm and its services with referrers and intermediaries.

LinkedIn, the main social network for professional and business users, allows you to post up blogs within its Pulse publishing facility that remain on your profile. There are also numerous on-line communities in LinkedIn groups where there are lively discussions about serving the needs of the elderly market. Twitter provides a good platform to allow people to join in digitally with major conferences and events through the use of hash tags.

And Facebook has a number of active communities that reach some elderly segments – for example, Friends of the Elderly has over 5,000 and Saga has over 43,000 followers.

Thought leadership

Several of the research studies mentioned above were the result of thought leadership campaigns where the information was then used to produce publications, conferences, seminars and social media campaigns to raise profile, position as experts and generate interest.

Care homes thought leadership campaign

And I must say that I was delighted to be with the lawyers from Rix & Kay solicitors last night at The Law Society’s Excellence Awards when their Later Life team won the “Best Business Development Campaign” for the thought leadership work they did on the care homes sector. http://www.rixandkay.co.uk/law-for-life/personal-injury/faq/the-care-sector-what-does-the-future-hold-2/ Hopefully, I will catch up with Rich Bates soon so that I can produce a legal marketing case study of his work.