I’ve heard too much about the characteristics and attitudes of Millennials. I am tired of the labels, stereotypes, and misconceptions. One of them is that most Millennials probably think they don’t need to work with a financial planner yet because they are still paying back student loans and aren’t making much money, but in reality many of them would be much better off financially if they did.
I also think generally financial planners have gotten a bad a rap. Some think of us as old white dudes who tell them they need to save more for retirement. The perception is of a lack of genuine personal attention and a lack of understanding about the mindset of Millennials, their goals, and their passions. What do Millennials need to look for when selecting a financial planner? They need to see someone who has a deep genuine passion for helping them not only make wise financial decisions, but also have more successful careers, and better lives. A person who is going to provide not only sound financial advice, but also be their life coach and biggest cheerleader.
So what are the most important things that Millennials need to do to find the right financial planner? Here are our recommendations:
Look for a good personality fit
Most Millennials should find a financial planner who is close in age and/or attitude who are able to understand their general life circumstances. This makes a huge difference because they know what their clients are going through. They can connect with their clients on a professional and a personal level. Most Millennials are looking for sound financial advice on topics as varied as how to find the balance between paying off your student loans and saving for retirement and how to save up to purchase a house.
Look for a CFP
One recommendation for Millennials is to find a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), which is a credential given to financial planners who have extensive experience working with clients in a financial planning capacity and have completed a rigorous certification exam. A recent financial industry report revealed that there are more CFPs over the age of 70 than under the age of 30. This is a huge market opportunity since, based on these trends, Millennials may have a lack of credible advisors to work with over the next decade – especially advisors who are within their age range. Another consideration is to look for “fee only” advisors who are able to provide non-biased advice because they don’t only sell financial products like most financial advisors.
Look for someone who works with your schedule and lifestyle
Everyone is busy these days. For most Millennials who are working long hours, building families, and taking time off to jet around the world, it can be hard to make time to schedule appointments. Seriously, when was the last time you went to the dentist? Virtual meetings on Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts are a solution. Advisors need to be as accessible to their clients as possible and meet them when it works for them clearly making their services as convenient for clients as possible. Larger financial institutions are just starting to leverage video meetings to connect with their clients. When you are looking for your own financial planner make sure they can work with your lifestyle and will be available when you need them to be.
Look for someone who has a holistic view
The majority of what a good financial planner does has nothing to do with investing. A few years ago I was working for a “old school” financial planning firm and wanted to get more control of my own time and future. So I started an independent Financial Life Planning boutique firm. I use myself as a model for my clients because most of them also want to have flexibility in their own lives. Most Millennials aren’t traditionally thinking about retirement the same way that our parents did. They want to save for and have a lot of mini-retirements. Maybe take an extended trip here, work a little bit more, and then take another one. Millennials are likely going to spend the rest of our lives working not because we necessarily have to but because they want to be engaged in work they are passionate about. So when you are looking for a financial planner who specializes in working with Millennials look for someone who actually listens and can respond to you and your own goals. Everyone is different and requires a different path.
Look for someone who can support you and connect you
It’s important advisors have a lot of connections that they bring to the table when meeting with their clients. The quintessential Millennial wants to be helpful. Very often in meetings, we mention people that our clients should connect with and even offer to make introductions. This even goes to the extent where a potential client might be a better fit for another financial planner and we then make an introduction. Being a financial planner is about doing what it takes to help make clients more successful and this includes not only helping them with decisions, but also pointing clients in the right directions.
Look for someone who knows how to communicate
There is no doubt about it; Millennials are one of the most tech savvy generations. Be it through smart phones, tablets, or laptops, they are virtually connected at almost every moment of their lives. Mobile is unarguably the best channel to connect with Millennials. The most receptive channel: email or text. What are the worst ways to reach Millennials? Spam, voicemails, letters and telemarketing. It is important that the advisor adapts the way in which they communicate to meet the specific needs of Millennials. Advisors should ask which form of communication they prefer.
Millennials don’t want to work hard for information in a world where anything they may need to know is available online. They are likely to seek out gaining financial insight. The most obvious channel is social media. Advisors being present on social media may be one of the best spaces to be seen by Millennials. Long lost is a trust in traditional marketing, therefore creating a trusting relationship through education, guidance and conversation is the best way to gain their attention and respect. Through this consistent conversation and built trust, advisors should demonstrate to Millennials how their services and support can better their lives. Consistency and authenticity are key.
Financial life planning is about a lot more than just money. We all have our own unique goals and money is just a tool to help us accomplish them. Millennial clients are smart and ambitious and most of them make great decisions. Most of them just need a little nudging or just some solid advice. A lot of our clients know what they should be doing, but we can always find a way to help them. Most Millennials could benefit greatly from talking with a financial life planner as they are trying to figure out the best way to make enough money and save enough money to live life on their own terms. Doing so is Keeping Life Current.