Why I’m Focused on Gen X and Millennials
One of the biggest questions I had to answer when starting a firm, was what type of clients I wanted to work with. Although I was, and remain, open to working with clients in all phases of life, I decided to dedicate much of my focus to mid-career Gen X and Millennials. I thought I’d share some thoughts about how I came to that decision here.
While many advisors prefer focusing on the largest group of current wealth holders (Baby Boomers), the idea of working with younger generations is very appealing to me. As a Gen Xer myself, being able to relate to what clients are going through is incredibly beneficial to building long-term, lasting partnerships. Beyond relatability, this demographic is also just knee deep in the wealth accumulation phase of their lives and in the coming years they stand to inherit a huge amount of wealth. They are the future wealth holders of America and I believe there is a large, unmet demand for quality investment advice targeted towards this group. Why isn’t demand being met? I think there are a couple of reasons.
First, demand has far outpaced the ability of the current generation of advisors to keep up. Many financial advisors have been serving the same clients for years if not decades. Today, a lot of their clients are rapidly approaching retirement and planning for this shift in lifestyle is very time-consuming. As these advisors are busy focused on the demands of current clients and perhaps considering retirement themselves, there is much less time being spent prospecting for younger clients to backfill their books.
The second reason for this lack of supply has to do with the structure of most advisory businesses. For an advisor, a major hurdle in choosing to work with younger clients has to do with the smaller account sizes. The majority of advisors are paid based on a percentage of the assets they manage. Since lower net worth clients would generate less revenue, an advisor would need to take on more clients in order to meet their own financial goals. With more clients comes a heavier workload, and because of this, many advisors would rather focus on serving a smaller number of higher net worth (generally older) clients.
The idea that many advisors are busy focusing on the needs of their current clients isn’t a problem for me, that’s an opportunity. The structure issue, however, is something I gave a lot of thought to. After considering potential, needs and technology, it was easy for me to see that Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t getting the attention they deserve. This demographic has enormous potential and has needs that can be very different than those of previous generations. Advisors today can take advantage of technology that not only makes managing their practice easier but makes the advisor’s offerings more efficient and appealing to younger, tech-savvy generations.
Not Your Grandfather’s Workforce
As the global job market has evolved, the opportunities for younger generations to hold high paying jobs has grown exponentially. These aren’t the same types of jobs our parents or grandparents had when they were our age. These are high-demand jobs that require unique skills and garner premium wages. The pace at which these highly skilled and motivated professionals are accumulating wealth near the early and middle parts of their careers is unprecedented. These are the leaders of tomorrow and the type of people I want to work with. As they work on advancing their careers, they are also building families and trying to plan for the future. With this comes questions about finances and investments. I want to educate and help them through their wealth accumulation years and then guide them into the distribution years of their life. Being able to participate in this journey is one of the greatest joys of being an advisor.
A Different Kind of Client
Many younger clients do not have the need for comprehensive financial planning. They might not yet need to plan an estate or sell a business, but they do need help budgeting, investing and planning for their future. They need somebody to go to for advice on financial issues as they come up, whatever they may be.
Much of this generation still has the 2008 financial crisis still fresh in their mind. Just when they started making decent money, many watched in awe as their 401ks and home values got cut in half. Those wounds go deep and the healing process is still underway. It’s no surprise that Millennials are the most underinvested generation, holding more than 50% of their assets in cash. They are afraid and undereducated about personal finance and investing. I want to help bridge that gap and get them back on the right path.
Technology is a Game Changer
Technology has made it possible for advisors to scale their practice like never before. Fifteen years ago, handling 100 clients was much more difficult than it is today. Through technological advancements, we can operate more efficiently and even virtually. I can meet my clients any time and any place. Advice isn’t restricted to office visits, phone calls or the 9-5 workday. Today the flexibility of communication makes working with clients easier than ever. The age of information is saving time for both the client and the advisor, all without losing the personal touch required to maintain a strong relationship.
With each generation comes a unique set of challenges. As the next generation prepares to take center stage, a changing of the guards is occurring in the advisor community. Advisors who don’t adapt to meet the needs of Gen X and Millenials risk missing out on a very big opportunity. I’m ready for the challenge and looking forward to helping my clients successfully navigate through some of the most exciting times of their lives.