Those are services, she adds, that they will gladly pay for. Next-gen folks also like to feel a sense of purpose about how their money is spent and managed.

“Younger clients want to be as ethical as possible with their investments,” says Marshall Nelson, a wealth advisor at Crewe Advisors in Salt Lake City. But, he notes, “it’s essentially impossible for every publicly traded company to be perfectly squeaky-clean.” So it’s important to be clear about which specific core values next-gen clients treasure most.

Some 46% of millennials favor companies that rank highly on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) measures, says Foss. But that doesn’t mean they are overly idealistic or impractical. “They believe that, over time, these considerations will lead to better returns,” she says.

Equally important are diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). According to the Census Bureau, racial or ethnic minorities make up nearly half of Gen Z—those born between 1997 and 2012. They are the most diverse generation in U.S. history, and they expect equal representation from the businesses they patronize, including their advisors.

Avoid Gender Bias
Another key factor is gender equity. “Younger married women are twice as likely as their moms to say they earn more than their husbands,” says Foss, noting that roughly 75% of her female clients under age 45 manage their own finances.

“Make sure each spouse is a player in the conversation and not just a spectator,” Crewe Advisors’ Nelson says. “Failure to do this is a great way to lose business.”

Lauryn Williams, founder of Dallas-based Worth Winning, says that many of her young clients are in nontraditional relationships. “There are same-sex couples, polyamorous couples, groups of three—things like that,” she says. “I have clients who are getting ready to have twins and they’re using two surrogates from another country.”

What’s more, her clients are often the first in their family to earn a six-figure salary, she says; they feel financially responsible for their less fortunate loved ones. “Telling them they can’t afford to help support someone else is just not a good answer,” Williams says.

Not All Trust-Fund Babies
Undeniably, many younger clients are the children or grandchildren of a current client. They do not, however, just want to coast on their legacies.

“A misconception I often run across is that [next-gen clients] are just expecting an inheritance to build their wealth,” says Amber Knips, a wealth advisor at Sweet Financial Partners in Fairmont and Jackson, Minn. Rather, she says, “they have the desire to create their own wealth and their own path for success.”

An advisor’s demeanor can possibly put off next-gen clients. They sometimes need to be educated, of course, and younger clients may be farther behind the learning curve than others. But the way older advisors express themselves can make or break the relationship.

It’s important that an advisor never acts superior and avoids jargon. “It can be intimidating [for clients] to ask someone to explain what a term or phrase means,” says Morgan Veth, a vice president and financial advisor at Bogart Wealth in McLean, Va.

Hambleton at Telemus Capital says financial language “does not resonate with many younger clients.” They’re also less formal and don’t like an uptight environment, says Nate Johnson, vice president at Cyndeo Wealth Partners in Los Angeles. One of his clients “decided to work with our group because of how I came dressed to our first meeting,” he says. “Who would have thought that jeans and a T-shirt would get the job done?”

Williams at Worth Winning says she hears “the F bomb” all the time.

Next-Gen Clients Aren’t ‘Training Wheels’
Ultimately, the success of the relationship may come down to relatability. Some firms have gone so far as to hire younger advisors to attract and retain younger clients, but that might backfire.

Next-gen clients may prefer advisors who are “younger than their parents,” says McKinnon, but “the key is not to be biased on age.” Pairing them with younger advisors “as training wheels for team members” is a mistake. “They deserve much more sophisticated advice, given all of the moving pieces in their lives,” she says.    

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