According to a report by Cerulli Associates last year, only 11% of advisors at RIAs are under the age of 35, and almost half (47%) of advisors at these firms are over 55. That explains why the current generation of leaders in the profession continues to wring their hands over the scarcity of new advisors, prompting some to view it as a crisis.

But if there is a shortage in the number of new advisors, the quality of talent entering the profession is more vibrant than ever. Just as the first generation of planners once began leaving the wirehouse world for independence, embraced fee-driven services and changed the business, younger advisors are changing it again—this time to reflect the lives their clients are living in new ways.

Younger people aren’t dwelling on alien concepts like their assets. They are trying to deal with their income, their student loans, their credit card debt. They are putting off marriage and home buying. They are living at home with parents longer. They’re digital natives who prefer e-mail to voice mail. They don’t care about your firm’s history or brand. Instead, they want to stalk you on Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

But ignoring them is not an option. According to some estimates, they are set to inherit $30 trillion as the baby boomers pass on.

This emerging profile of the younger investor dovetails with changing technology—at a time “robo-advisors” are emerging, when money management is becoming commoditized. It’s probably not a coincidence that younger advisors increasingly talk of outsourcing money management to the robots or turnkey asset managers just to focus on shop talk about credit card rewards. Their unorthodox ways of working, again, mirror their clients’.

In the words of Tim Maurer, one of Financial Advisor’s “Ten Young Advisors To Watch,” that spirit of individuality has changed both sides of the financial planning relationship. In his former brokerage clothes, he had to be a certain type of person and fit a certain kind of mold.

“I guess it is the Generation Xers in us,” he says. “We’re seeing the industry change from one where everybody has to look and sound and act a certain way. Now people are being allowed to show their individuality so they can attract the people they would naturally attract.”

Sophia Bera
Gen Y Planning, Minneapolis, Minn.

Nothing about Sophia Bera’s career trajectory has been ordinary. In 2006, she was still an actress, doing many nights of an 18th century British play and waiting tables. But she wanted to buy a house after college. She started reading about personal finance. Her friends saw what she was doing and started asking her advice on money. She started taking CFP courses, met her first mentors and worked her way through three different planning firms. She found her sweet spot working with people in their 20s and 30s.

Finally, she decided to launch a virtual company in May 2013 exclusively for those young clients. She was terrified, but a former mentor asked, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

She now runs her firm while staying at sublets and friends’ houses all over the country. “I really like working remotely, and I really wanted to do my own thing.” She’s not doing planning as it’s long been defined, she says—something designed “for rich old white dudes 30 years ago.”

“I always say 80% of what I do has nothing to do with investments,” she says. “Traditionally, when we think about financial planning, we think about investing and retirement planning, two things that Gen Y doesn’t really care much about.”

Instead she’s fielding calls about people’s student debt, connecting people with CPAs and estate planning attorneys and no-load insurance, discussing student loan programs, stock options, buying or renting, tax planning, credit cards and Roth IRAs. She charges them an initial planning fee of about $2,000 to get started, which includes a financial plan. After that she charges a subscription fee of $99 to $199 a month. (There’s also a $499 one-off assessment.) She manages assets for about half her regular clients.

And she does it her way: “location independent,” conducting meetings via Skype and Google. She crashes with friends, sublets or stays with her parents when home in Minneapolis.

She also offers her clients unlimited e-mail support and a six-month check-in, because “people’s lives change every six months.”