A recent article published on Financial Advisor's website concluded that millennials, as well as Gen Xers, simply don’t need an advisor because they aren’t going to get any value out of working with one.
Melody Juge, the self-acknowledged baby-boomer-centric advisor interviewed for the article, Millennials, Advisors Don't Need Each Other, Planner Says, says: “Why do you want to have a 20- or 30-something man or woman who is full of life, creativity and forward thinking be focused on the end of their life? In most cases, savings should just be automated and out of mind.”
Yet what this statement really illustrates is not how young clients don’t need financial planning, but instead how the very label “financial planning” is being distorted. It's being turned into a euphemism for investment management and retirement planning by a retirement-centric industry, as though accumulating a giant portfolio for retirement is the only financial problem anyone in our country ever faces. And while we wish that Ms. Juge’s opinion on Gen X and Gen Y clients working with an advisor was just her opinion, it unfortunately seems to be systemic of the entire financial planning profession.
Yet the reality is that true comprehensive financial planning is about far more than just managing an accumulated portfolio for retirement spending. Financial planning is about helping clients live great lives. And arguably, we can do more for younger clients in their 20s, 30s and 40s to accomplish this mission, when they still have most of their personal and financial future lying ahead of them, still waiting to be shaped.
As Gen X and Gen Y advisors ourselves, we can’t help but turn back to our own lives when thinking about this.
Alan’s story is this: I’m 28 years old, and just five years ago I was graduating college and grad school. I had a boatload of student loans, got married and moved across the country for my first job. When I got there, I bought an investment property (a duplex), and I worked at that job for a year before leaving -- and then moved across the country again for a new job. I sold the duplex, took that second job, and six months later I got fired. At that point, I landed in a new city again and launched Serenity Financial Consulting, a financial planning firm that I started from scratch. After that, I moved yet again to Montana, started another business and sold it, started XY Planning Network, bought a condo, sold Serenity Financial Consulting, had a baby, and got divorced.
Michael’s story is this: I’m 37 years old. On graduation day, I packed up everything I owned into the back of my car to take a life insurance sales job that required me to live with my parents for nine months because I wasn’t making enough money to live on my own. After a year I changed jobs and moved out, but the only way I could afford to live on my own was to rent a three-bedroom apartment with roommates so the rent could be divided three ways. I began building my credit score, and started putting myself through graduate school part time while working full time. Less than two years later, I left my job to take a lower paying one with better upside potential and launched a side hustle to earn extra income so I could save for a house down payment. Three years after that, I left my full-time job to make my side hustle a full-time business and moved in with a girlfriend. Within two years we got married, blended our finances, had a baby, moved to another state, bought a house, and made the family decision to adjust from a dual-income to a single-income household so one of us could stay home full time to raise our family.