Chicago: “I’m getting a lot of pressure from my firm to start focusing on the next generation -- working with my clients’ children,” sighed Greg, with perplexed a look, then added, “I’ve been at this for 30 years and for the life of me, I can’t see the benefit.”
With only 21 percent of today’s financial advisors expressing an interest to work with the children of their affluent clients, Greg has a lot of company. He’s a veteran advisor in his 50’s on a team with a partner who’s a couple years younger. Their team has done well by industry standards ($160 million in assets), but they have no real succession plan in place. The team does have a junior advisor of whom but Greg says, “the jury’s still out” on him.
I attempted to explain to Greg that he and his partner were most likely missing a serious opportunity. Today’s average client is a 58 year old Baby Boomer. The children of these clients are most likely to be Millennials, between the age of 18 and 34. They currently represent 32 percent of the U.S. population compared to the Boomers at 30 percent. Simple math tells us that they’re going to be a larger driving economic force of goods and services than their Baby Boomer parents. This next generation of Millennials, are today’s opportunity, as well as the opportunity of the future.
The junior financial advisor of every team should be commissioned to connect with the next generation of affluent clients. This should be a core area of responsibility. For veteran advisors like Greg and his partner, who might have thoughts of retirement rattling around in the back of their mind, this is akin to fully monetizing their book of business. Essentially, they’d be commissioning their junior advisor to mine their acre of diamonds.
Our 2015 affluent research has uncovered the fact that 51 percent of today’s affluent clients believe their children will have $1 million or greater investable assets, from a combination of earnings and inheritance. In other words, 51 percent of these Millennial offspring will most likely be in need of a financial advisor.
So despite Greg’s experience as a veteran financial advisor, it’s unlikely he will be able to connect very well with a 27 year old son of one the team’s affluent clients. However, with the proper positioning and a set-up, his “jury’s still out” junior advisor is likely to have more success than his veteran senior partners. Why? For a number of reasons:
- The age gap wouldn’t be as great and it would be more natural for the younger financial advisor to connect with this 27 year old son of one of their affluent clients.
- A 27 year old (next generation Millennial) is more likely to perceive Greg and his partner to be of his father’s vintage – slowing down and not too far from retirement – not as someone he’d envision advising him on his finances through his peak earning years.
- The junior advisor can play on the credibility of his senior partners and position himself as the financial advisor who will be working with him for the next 30 years. Saying something along the lines of… “The financial services industry is facing a battle of age. The average Financial Advisor is 48 - the average client is 58. The math is pretty clear – if the advisor is currently in his forties, let alone fifties or sixties, he probably won’t be there for his clients in their twilight years. We think it’s imperative to work with someone who can be there through the whole journey.”
- If their junior advisor is able to handle this Millennial assignment, Greg and his partner have uncovered 4 big wins:
- They’ve fully monetized their book by retaining this next generation of business.
- Their business will be valued at a higher level when they decide to retire.
- They have created a logical continuity plan in the eyes of their affluent clients, as the clients are now comfortable with the junior advisor.
- They have a built-in succession plan with their junior advisor now positioned to purchase their business when they decide to retire.
Whether it’s the children of affluent clients, young professionals embarking on their careers in accounting, law, banking, etc., -- think in terms of young financial advisors (Millennials) as the perfect fit for developing long-term working relationships. These relationships are what will get this economic title wave (Millennial earning power and inheritance) working in a healthy and profitable manner.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com