The Establishment Buffalo is housed in a modern, industrial-looking space equipped with a bar, reconfigurable dining tables, dining chairs and banquette seating. Its sliding bookshelf wall conceals the classroom. The look and feel—very similar to Barnum’s new facility—is meant to appeal to younger people, says Dinello.

Establishment instructors don’t make sales pitches, but attendees can opt into a private, complimentary, 30-minute financial checkup with an advisor. They’re welcome to bring documentation about student loans, retirement and other financial matters to checkups.

Since opening its doors four years ago, the Establishment Buffalo has hosted 457 classes for nearly 5,000 attendees, says Dinello. The average age is 33. About one-third have opted for a complimentary financial checkup, she notes, and roughly one-third of those have become clients of MassMutual NYS.

Gearing Up

Five of Barnum’s financial advisors are lined up to teach at its Establishment this fall, says Hiza. The firm hopes to host a couple dozen one-off classes there between this September and the winter holidays and plans to hold nearly 100 classes there annually (two classes a week, or eight per month).

The curriculum includes Wine & Investing (levels 101 and 201); the Bigger Picture of Credit Scores; Buying Your First Home; Couples and Money; Creating a Budget; Making Sense of Student Loans; Parents and Money; Tips and Tricks to Navigating Your Taxes; Females and Finance; Crafting Cocktails and Financial Plans; and Young Professionals’ Guide to Retirement Planning.

According to Hiza, the Establishment Barnum scheduled its first on-site class for the end of July for young professionals affiliated with the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, a local chamber of commerce. The Establishment will also hold classes designed for individuals who are approaching or already in retirement, she says.

Classes run 90 minutes, and attendees at all Establishment locations are invited to arrive a half hour before class begins to socialize over complimentary food and drinks. Barnum’s facility is designed to comfortably seat 15 to 20 people. Registration is online. If a class is full, Barnum will maintain a waiting list and plan to offer it again, says Hiza. People can attend as many classes as they’d like.

To get the word out, Barnum has been building a list of e-mail contacts with people who’ve shown interest, and it’s partnering with local radio and TV stations. Its storefront Establishment could also receive “a ton of foot traffic,” Hiza says, noting that it’s next door to a popular restaurant.

In April, Barnum started bringing “pop-up” versions of some Establishment classes to corporations. But filling seats in the new facility is its big focus. “Millennials like experiences,” Hiza says.

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