Advise Millennials. They may save your practice.

Working with Millennial clients sometimes means taking a new approach to your business and answering questions about more than retirement

Sep 25, 2014 @ 9:02 am

By Trevor Hunnicutt

If there's one thing advisers who work with Millennials share, it might be that their peers think they're crazy.

“A lot of people thought we were insane — with the golden age of baby boomers coming, why on earth would you want to work with people with no money,” said Ted Jenkin, co-chief executive of oXYGen Financial Inc.

But Mr. Jenkin, who is a founder of his Atlanta-based firm, said doing so is an investment in the future of his business.

“Some of them actually do have money, some of them have fantastic jobs, and they have excellent disposable income,” he said. “It's a slower build than taking a $1 million rollover from a baby boomer.”

Mr. Jenkin and two other advisers brave enough to branch out to young professionals spoke Tuesday on an InvestmentNews webcast.

The advisers said that, while Millennials have a variety of unique needs, developing younger clients can save an adviser's practice.

“If you haven't spent time getting to know the children of your clients, there's a strong chance that money will leave your firm,” said Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning, which is based in the Minneapolis area.

(Know someone looking to enter the advice business? Send them to the InvestmentNews NextGen Virtual Career Fair on Nov. 7)

That doesn't mean it will be easy. Younger clients have different ideas of what will make them happy in life, according to Kate Holmes, founder of Las Vegas-based Belmore Financial. Some get married late or not at all; other choose to not have kids.

“There's a big shift happening in terms of what people are doing and what decisions they're making,” she said.

Planning-centric conversations with those younger investors are key to meeting their needs, according to Ms. Holmes. Financial needs, wants and questions constantly arise: auto insurance premiums, iPhone 6, travel rewards, credit cards.

Ms. Bera said she meets with many younger clients every six months, which oftentimes fits well with the frequent, and fairly significant, changes in their lives. Engagement, marriage, job change, career change.

Given their unique circumstances, out-of-the-box planning solutions seldom work. While some planning software is good at creating retirement scenarios for baby boomers, their projections for Millennials generally strain credulity, according to Ms. Bera.

“What I try to do is break away from using the more traditional financial planning software,” she said. “When you're projecting things 30 or 40 years out, you just get these ridiculous numbers.”

Mastering the Internet is a key to winning these clients, Mr. Jenkin said. He said he has more than 1,200 blogs posts online, most of them breezy, opinionated and accessible to a general-interest audience.

“Your website has to be designed to generate leads,” according to Mr. Jenkin.

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