The transition of wealth has been a widely popular topic in the financial advisory industry. Cerulli Associates estimate that as much as $68 trillion will transition between Baby Boomers and Millennials / Gen X in the next 25 years.
There are many moving pieces when it comes to this transfer, such as whether it’s a threat or an opportunity for financial advisors, the importance of inheritance within families, how to best interact with millennials and how robo-advisors are affecting the industry. The list could go on and on!
From your unique perspective as a financial advisor, do you associate the great generational wealth transfer as an opportunity or threat?
Thomas: I think there’s a balance between the two. Older advisors could consider this event a threat because most kids don’t stick with their parents’ financial advisors. So, for traditional financial advisors, it would be a bit of a worry, especially if they’re not equipped to work with millennials. It’s important to cater to millennials’ preferences, and after we found that millennials want to work on a subscription model, we began to offer it right away. Personally, I think of it as an opportunity. Many clients have come to us because they have an inheritance, and they might not know what to do with and how to navigate the tax implications best.
Also, there’s an enormous wealth gap between millennials and other generations. Millennials are starting to realize they need help because student loans are bigger than previous generations, and income hasn’t increased nearly as much. They’re in a tough spot to figure what needs to be done, so it’s important to relate to them and figure out how they can be smart about it.
Why should financial advisors try to work with the whole family and what are the benefits to the clients?
Thomas: You can do many great things for a family when you work with all the members. If you work with the parents, kids, grandkids, you understand how that inheritance will work, and you can plan with an understating of their entire family’s picture. This makes wealth transfers easier because, as a financial advisor, you already have a deep understanding of their situation and the ideal next steps. You don’t need to be brought up to speed with everything as you would with a new advisor. It creates a great opportunity if you’re able to serve both generations, so it’s essential to have a strong long-term relationship with your clients.
Do you think that millennials are gravitating towards robo-advising in comparison to the traditional financial advising services?
Thomas: People could go out and get information to make financial decisions themselves, but it’s the accountability that’s missing when they do that. They need somebody that is going to go out and take action for them. I also believe that robo-advising can help in the early twenties when financial planning is simple, but once it gets more complex, like thinking about buying a house, having kids, you will need a financial advisor.
How do you think your interactions with millennials are different from your interactions with other generations regarding financial advising?
Thomas: From what I’ve seen, millennials are more open to talking about finances, and they really want to understand what they’re doing. If you look at the older generations, they didn’t get a financial advisor until they were older, and there’s a stigma around money. Also, millennials are seeking financial advice at a younger age than older generations, but they also have more moving pieces. Somebody in their fifties or sixties is close to retirement, and their life is calmer, but a younger client would have kids, mortgages, sports and now COVID.
It’s essential to understand where they are at in their lives by asking questions, communicating and learning how to best cater to their specific needs.
What are the most popular channels of communication used for your millennial clients in comparison to older clients?
Thomas: Our older clients prefer email. Some millennials like to interact face to face, but most millennials like to meet through technology. Some of the ways we interact are:
- Sending videos
- Text (through compliant apps)
- Video Chat
- Using Loom for screen-sharing and walk through tutorials
What advice do you have for other financial advisors looking at catering to the millennial niche?
Thomas: It’s critical to integrate a great technology experience for your clients. Millennials are willing to pay for financial advice as long as they are sure the advice will work for them Another way to best attract millennials is by educating, and you can do that by making relatable and applicable content. At the end of the day, people want to live a good life so helping them understand how to balance future planning and living the life they want now is very important.
About Thomas Kopelman
RLS Wealth is a fee-only financial planning firm that specializes in helping people define and live out their purpose. At RLS, we believe that money is a tool, it isn’t evil, but it also is not the answer. But, when held properly, it can help you get more out of life. I joined the financial planning industry because I saw how money can make a huge difference in people’s lives. The problem is, that many people have no knowledge about money. They had no role models or examples to teach them about it like I did. This is why I became a financial advisor. I want to help my generation make wise choices financially so they can impact their families and ultimately live out their purpose.