Now that millennials have entered the job market en masse, they are taking control of their own finances, creating new opportunities for brokerages and financial advisors— but recent studies have shown a deficit of trust from young adults towards financial services industry, even among high-net-worth millennials.
In a new paper entitled “Engaging the Next Generation,” Devon Bruce and George Carr, senior client advisors at Federal Street Advisors, explain that high-net-worth millennials’ distrust of the financial services industry comes from their life experience.
“Millennials came of age beginning with the bursting of the tech bubble and the Enron scandal, and continuing through ‘the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression,’” the paper says. “During the subsequent Great Recession, millennials saw these events translate into real-life hardships: the plummeting of their parents' retirement accounts and an arduous job market upon college graduation.”
Now, high-net-worth millennials are more likely to turn to family members as their sole sources of financial advice, if anyone at all. A 2014 Fidelity study reported that a quarter of millennial respondents didn’t trust anyone to deliver sound advice on money matters, the Federal Street report noted.
Bruce and Carr advocate financial education for millennial clients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean intensive, face-to-face education.
“One of our core beliefs is that if we can’t discuss a client’s financial situation with them without delving into the world of jargon, we haven’t done our job properly,” the paper says. “Therefore, we often take an educational approach to ensure that we’re on the same page with our client.”
Bruce and Carr recommend that advisors impart advice while listening and researching millennials' interests and concerns.
As an example, the paper notes that millennials are more likely to be interested in impact and socially responsible investing than other generations. It follows that advisors should be open to educating themselves on how to best meet these demands.
In many cases, millennials strongly desire to be treated independently from their baby boomer and Generation X family members. High-net-worth millennials are more likely to be second-generation clients, which can result in them associating their advisors with their parents rather than themselves, Federal Street notes.
“While we are certainly conscious of family dynamics, we make sure that our millennial clients receive independent advice customized to their particular situation,” the report says. “Oftentimes, we pair these younger clients with an advisor closer to them in age to enhance the potential for a strong bond.”
Similarly, it’s commonly believed that millennials prefer impersonal forms of communication through the Internet or mobile devices, but Federal Street says that’s not the case.