Does Gen Y even have any money?

As a Gen Y adviser serving the Gen Y market, Mary Beth Storjohann can't begin to count the number of times she hears that question from other advisers.

Oct 28, 2013 @ 9:13 am

By Mary Beth Storjohann

Mary Beth Storjohann
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Mary Beth Storjohann

As a Gen Y adviser serving a Gen Y market, I can't begin to count the number of times I've been faced with this question — from the advisory community.

In fact, it happened most recently at FinCon13, a financial bloggers conference, when I told an older adviser that I had launched Workable Wealth this year.

My answer is yes. Gen Y does have money. The amounts may be different than the typical industry standard of $500,000, but they, like most other clients, have questions that need to be answered and problems that need to be solved around their financial situations.

I'm in this industry because of my desire to help people. My family struggled financially as I was growing up and it was in part due to a lack of education around money. If I can prevent just one person from making the mistakes that I saw being made, then I've succeeded. Many practice management gurus speak about the importance establishing your niche. The more focused your practice, the more people you'll serve and the quicker you'll grow. After almost 10 years in the industry, I know that my natural market is Gen Y; and not just the “whole” of the group. I focus specifically on young married couples, military families and entrepreneurial women (as I'm a part of each group).

The referrals ebb and flow from each area, and some happen to overlap all three, but ultimately I have found that yes, they do have money. Sure, there are student loans that come along with it in some cases, but ultimately my clients are in need of some financial organization and clarity — which is just what many financial planning clients need, regardless of net worth.

My practice is structured to charge an annual retainer broken down into monthly payments, plus a one-time set-up fee. This allows my clients to treat their payment just as they would a cable or utility bill and eases their out-of-pocket expenses, as well as sets me up with a recurring income stream.

Financial planning for Gen Y is not all about retirement planning, which is also an assumption many advisers make. It's about helping them to live their best financial life while navigating the many transitions that occur during one's 20s and 30s. It comes with helping them with spending plan creation, goal shaping and prioritization, investment and risk management, maximizing company benefits, estate planning and more.

Having worked at five different firms throughout the industry before starting Workable Wealth, I've learned that one of the smartest things one can do is to structure a practice so it can grow with the client base. Many firm owners and senior advisers lose sight of how their client book or segment has evolved over time. They expect new recruits or junior advisers to bring in clients that meet high minimums before equipping them with the proper tools and experience to get there. By launching Workable Wealth, and working with my peers early in their careers, I'm setting myself and my business up to evolve with their needs over time, and I'm doing it in a way that Gen Y can relate to.

What do you think? Are you working with Gen Y clients? How are they different than Boomers?

Mary Beth Storjohann is the founder of Workable Wealth, a financial planning firm for Gen Y, by Gen Y. She has been quoted in various publications including The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, U.S. News & World Report and more. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj

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