I’ve worked in the financial technology industry for nearly six years and have helped countless financial offices get up and running with Redtail as their new CRM. I’ve worked with practice management professionals to put together new goals for advisors, and have been slowly amassing industry knowledge, always striving both to be a good listener and to develop my own voice in this field I have chosen. Oddly enough, I don’t even have a financial advisor. I don’t know if my parents have one, although I’m sure they do, and have never heard his or her name or business or anything from anyone.
What I HAVE heard, however, is that the financial services industry is on the cusp of the biggest wealth transfer in years, when Generation X will finally retire and pass on many of their assets and responsibilities to their millennial children. I’ve even started having basic discussions with my own parents about taking over responsibilities for their property management and time-share assets. I can’t be the only one having these conversations with their Gen X parents; there must be millions of cases similar to mine sprouting up all over the country. Yet, I don’t have a financial advisor.
I look at this as a unique opportunity: for myself, as someone who is at least familiar with financial professionals and what they do, and for those professionals, to hear directly from a not-completely-uninformed millennial. I have questions, as many of my generation do. Financial professionals should be aware that they could lose up to 90% of their generational clients with this wealth transfer, and make themselves more adept at answering these questions for the coming of millennials with money.
Why do I even need a financial advisor? I have a pretty decent job and make a fair amount of money, but millennials as a generation have been notoriously focused on the NOW instead of the LATER. This could change with the transfer of wealth, but it is nonetheless a mindset that reigns supreme. Can’t I just keep all my money in a savings account? I’m not interested in putting money somewhere where it’s not readily available. What’s the benefit in being a homeowner when the markets are going through such similar patterns as before the crash of 2008? The housing market crash affected a gigantic group of millennials, forcing them to incur debts when they couldn’t find jobs.
Why should I put my faith in a system that’s so greatly affected by emotional reaction? Understanding the differences between investment types is a huge hurdle that millennials need help over. Watching the stock markets swing and change by hundreds of points based on elections and weather and the hopes and fears of the masses leaves an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. If numbers are supposed to be so accurate, why does the stock market swing on such whims? Even then, if you can convince some of us to look for financial advice, you’re dealing with a generation of uneducated investors. What the hell is the difference between a stock, a bond, and an annuity?
Why should I trust you when I have an app that is run by an algorithm that doesn’t contain greed or gut reaction? Investment apps have become the rage lately, with mobile applications such as Stash and Acorns allowing tech-savvy individuals to take small increments of money (such as rounding up debit card transactions to the dollar) and investing those small amounts in various large, small, real estate, and emerging market stocks. Why is going with a financial advisor more beneficial to me than just using these apps?
Why haven’t I heard about you from my parents? Why did I have to go searching for you? If you’re not asking your clients to bring their grown children into meetings, then you’re doing something wrong. I blame my parents’ financial advisor for me not knowing about them. They should be talking to my parents, asking about me, asking to meet me, and asking them to mention me. I’m the next step in their business, if they hope to continue on with it. As a matter of fact, their lack of a presence in my life was one of the motivating factors behind the writing of this piece.
What kind of relationship are we going to have? Many millennials are interested in one thing: not getting screwed over. Professional millennials create a group of friends in their industry, helping one another by networking, finding shared interests, and referring one another to each other, thus growing that network and, consequently, each other’s business. Some may be all-in on a business-only, focus-on-the-numbers relationship with their financial advisor, but many others are looking for people who understand them, their wants, and their desires. Like every generation before us, we think that everyone older than us just doesn’t understand, as accurate or inaccurate as that may be.
Can you email me? Text me? Send me meeting invites? Allow me to see my progress online? As a technology trainer, there have been numerous offices that I have walked into to assist in onboarding them with Redtail CRM, which I would never walk into as a client. The days of having walls of file cabinets, paper calendars on your desks, and faxing documents is over. To put it bluntly, it’s done, and it’s never coming back. Millennials have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and while some have rejected that in the desire to feel “unplugged”, the great majority have the ability to check their banking, rent, car payments, credit scores, investments, travel information, and nearly everything else all with the tap of their fingertips. What is it that you can offer to me that is better?
“… It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself.”
This quote is often attributed to Charles Darwin, but in fact originates from a Louisiana State University business professor named Leon C. Megginson at a convention in 1963. Its origin is irrelevant; it is the words themselves we must look to. The world is changing around us as we speak. Socially, politically, morally, and spiritually, things are ever evolving. If I cannot evolve beyond my millennial mentality and embrace a financial professional to assist me, it may prove to be my downfall. If the financial industry cannot embrace the change required to communicate and work with millennials, it may prove to be its downfall. This upcoming wealth transfer is a bridge in which both sides must be willing to meet at the middle, and being able to adapt and communicate is what will allow your financial business to survive.
To boil it down, I’ll pull yet another quote from a movie, as I tend to do in these articles. In the 2011 film Moneyball, when faced with overwhelming resistance to change the way the Oakland Athletics were focusing on players, Manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, offered three simple words that everyone should live by:
“Adapt or Die.”