How Financial Advisors Can Better Serve Millennials

Millennials are the next generation entering and rising through the ranks of the workforce. Their needs, however, differ distinctly from the Baby Boomer generation that preceded them. In a general sense, millennials are not focused on attaining the same types of goals as their predecessors, namely expensive houses, and cars. Rather, their priorities lie in spending money on experiences, travel, and personal development.

Financial advisors need to be aware of the shifting needs of their millennial clientele and actively think about ways to better help them reach their goals.

All financial advisors want to help their clients reach their goals-- but not all goals take the same route.

I recently attended a webinar that focused on working with millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996. Although many young people are making good money, they are just getting started, paying down student debt and most of their wealth is tied up in their employer retirement plans and perhaps a new home. This talk gave me insight into how I might better serve my younger clients and the ways that millennials rely on financial advisors in new and diverse ways.

1. Meet them where they are

Many young workers are faced with debt, whether that be in the form of student debt, a mortgage, credit card, or personal debt. I like to meet my clients where they are at and help them work through the financial issues most important to them.

Young clients often need different advice in terms of budgeting and saving. My clients and I work together to iron out the wrinkles in their budgets and help them make goal-oriented budgets that promote intentional spending and a holistic approach to money in order to promote a healthy, growing relationship with their finances.

2. Workplace benefits

Often new workers struggle to understand the depth of the benefits that their employer offers and how to best take advantage of them.

  • Choosing a health plan
  • The importance of a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA)
  • Disability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Understanding investment options with the 401(k)
  • Identifying their risk tolerance
  • Student loan repayment benefits

Many of these benefits also come with tax breaks which are not intuitive to people entering the corporate world.  I know from working with my own kids that the list above presents many challenges to younger people. I enjoy showing people the benefits they have and how to best navigate them come tax time.

3. Keep their goals in mind

I like to help my clients make good choices. Now that may seem like an obvious statement, but it really isn’t. Advisors, like anyone else, can become prey to routine and repetitiveness which may lead us away from the goals of our clients.

Each client has their own unique set of goals and desires for their finances, and it is my philosophy that those goals be the center of my advice for them. Approaching the topics from a mentorship standpoint allows me to develop closer relationships with my younger clients and instill trust between us.  

For this type of consulting, I often stick to hourly rates, so people don’t have to go through the process of disqualifying themselves because they don’t have investments to manage or even a full-blown financial planning need.  

I want to be present and active for all of my clients whether their needs are big or small. Financial advice is valuable in every stage of your life, but especially as people begin to build a career and family. Millennial clients, like others, are goal-oriented. By understanding their motivations, I can better help them make and carry out their long-term goals.  

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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