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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Sophia Bera on Working With Millennial Clients

Gen Y Planning's Sophia Bera details why she uses a one-page financial plan and an action checklist – not comprehensive financial planning software – to deliver ongoing financial planning value to her next-generation clientele.



Welcome back to the 217th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Sophia Bera. Sophia is the founder of Gen Y Planning, an RIA based in Austin, Texas that serves just under 100 young professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

What’s unique about Sophia, though, is that she was one of the first financial planners to launch a “location-independent” firm, specifically to serve Millennial clients using an up-front plus monthly retainer model that now averages $400 to $500 per month for each of her new clients… yet uses a one-page financial plan and an Action Checklist – not comprehensive financial planning software – to deliver ongoing financial planning value to her next-generation clientele.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Sophia and her fully virtual team help Millennial clients navigate the plethora of changes and decisions they face as they establish their careers and their families. How Sophia structures her initial client meetings around goal and value discovery and then putting together her one-page action checklist before establishing an ongoing meeting schedule, why net worth reporting (and not portfolio reporting) is at the heart of her planning process, and why she eschews more mainstream financial planning with its long-term retirement projections in favor of solutions that focus on shorter-term goals instead.

We also talk about how working with next-generation clients can entail a higher turnover rate than managing portfolios for retirees, why Sophia is less worried about retaining a stable book of clients than she is about having the capacity to work with people who need her help the most, the way that Sophia is starting to offer established clients new options around how they can structure their ongoing planning relationship as their needs change, and how Sophia’s own life experiences drive home just how much the quick-fire pace of life changes make a financial planning relationship so valuable for those still in their 30s.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Sophia discusses the deliberate steps she and her team took to prepare ahead of her maternity leave (to the point where her out-of-office responder made it explicitly clear that she wasn’t responding to emails at all for four months), how she spent the first month after returning from her maternity leave focused on the business rather than meeting with clients, and how she’s been able to intentionally build her firm and structure her schedule to make a good living while still having time to focus on the things that are important to her outside of her business as well.

So if you’re interested in learning about Sophia’s experience with retention rates within a subscription-based fee model, how she’s structuring her fees for longer-term clients, and how she incorporates a one-page action plan as a client deliverable, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!

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