You talk with enough advisors, and you begin to sense a gulf between old and young—different attitudes about how you run a business, who it’s for and even existential questions like “Why do we do this?”

Younger advisors increasingly talk about the lives they want to pursue, about their own goals and what it means to accumulate wealth. Life, they suggest, isn’t just about the money. Money is about helping you live life.

Such attitudes when pushed far enough can rankle older professionals, the ones who spent the last 40 years inventing the business after melting out of the brokerage and insurance worlds. Some have found, to their horror, that younger advisors want to work their own schedules with mobile devices and web conferencing. Yet the recent coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to stay at home to communicate with clients, validating the approach.

Advisors today are dealing with a different world, one where technology has changed the approach entirely, and where things that used to take weeks can now be simplified.

Andrew Altfest is a child of planning, the scion of industry trailblazers Lewis and Karen Altfest and now president of the firm they built, Altfest Personal Wealth in New York. “We don’t see everything the same way,” Andrew says about his parents. “We would spend weeks of time doing this work when I first joined the firm. But we’re in a world of technology that allows us to simplify and do things—automate—and we have advanced technology like artificial intelligence that allows us to do really impressive things for clients.

“The old way of thinking [is] that comprehensive financial planning cannot be scaled, planning is done more up front and less ongoing, it’s not as core to the relationships as investments, that planning is a loss leader … these are all things that were taken for granted by the previous generation.”





Phuong Luong
Founder / Just Wealth / San Francisco

Unlike many who got into planning because of an interest in investments, Phuong Luong always wanted to be a teacher. She’s the child of immigrants who left Vietnam in 1984; her mother became a seamstress and her father a shipping clerk in New York City. The family started over poor. “I saw huge inequalities in wealth and income growing up.” Educating was an early passion; she taught in public school at the upper elementary grade level for eight years in rural New England and Boston, focusing on math and kids with learning disabilities (while also getting her master’s at Boston University). But there were things that bothered her about the educational system. “Mostly what I found is that kids who were labeled with learning disabilities were some of the poorest in the school.” Those labels, attitudes and grading seemed to disproportionately harm students of color.

She left teaching to work at a nonprofit, giving financial coaching to adults living in public housing. While still teaching, she learned about the CFP program and the Robert J. Glovsky Scholarship Fund for people of color and women who want to work in diverse, underserved communities. “If the scholarship wasn’t there, I don’t know if I would have pursued [it].”

She learned along the way that people of more means had a lot of the same anxieties with money that she did growing up without it—and that also goes for people she works with now. “I’ve worked with people who have their companies sold and they have windfalls, I work with people now who have million-dollar inheritances from their parents,” she says. “I also still work with people who work with nonprofit and local governments and are educators.”

She says her job as a teacher is to remove barriers to wealth building. As a planner, volunteer and teacher, she’s seen people bring shame to meetings: “Shame for past mistakes, or I shouldn’t say past mistakes, [but] past decisions they might have made with their money.” She currently works with the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning Diversity Advisory Group and the Racial Justice Investing Coalition. She also works with the Boston University Financial Planning Program as an online tutor.



Andrew Altfest
President / Altfest Personal Wealth Management / New York

There are different roads into financial advice—some come from brokerage backgrounds, some from insurance. Andrew Altfest grew up in the business, hearing about it on car rides, starting an investment club in high school. His parents Lewis and Karen Altfest are high-profile PhDs who often grace top advisor lists, and their son Andrew is now president of the firm his parents founded in 1983, overseeing 40 staffers, some 600 client households and $1.3 billion in AUM at age 39.

“I grew up going around attending conferences,” he says. “Those were my vacations when I was a child. Going to different cities with my parents. I would be in hotel rooms playing with other children of financial advisors.” He learned to be a value investor at a young age. “My parents would take me to sales and outlets, and [say] you can find the same shirt at an outlet that you could find on Madison Avenue for a significantly discounted price, 80% off or something like that.” He’d leave high school at 3 p.m. in casual dress, put on a shirt and tie, jump on the subway and head to a brokerage, listen to the squawk box.

Unlike other young advisors who get their feet wet with small firms, he’s in charge of building his parents’ huge firm and building on its legacy—but he also has the big responsibility of preparing the firm for another 35 years. He says that has meant overseeing the firm’s technology plank to incorporate planning specialties like taxation and estate planning that weren’t as scalable before.

“I don’t think we can practice the same way we practiced in 1983,” he says. “Back in 1983, we were doing financial plans with HP 12c calculators and legal pads.” Fast-forward from calculators to artificial intelligence: In February of this year, Altfest launched FP Alpha, an AI-based comprehensive wealth management platform to alert advisors to planning opportunities in things like clients’ taxes, estate planning and insurance.

Altfest, who is one of the oldest millennials, says people his age want to make immediate contributions and not just wait. “I remember that feeling.” For that reason, he says, “we have to be cognizant that we are giving people a lot of responsibility early on, responsibility that they are ready to handle, and that way we keep them engaged.” The younger advisor’s attention span, he says, “could be a lot shorter than it was 30 years ago.”



Anjali Jariwala
Founder / FIT Advisors / Los Angeles

Anjali Jariwala was on the pre-med route in college, but said in the back of her mind she always knew she’d start her own business. “I’m a big believer in pushing for change and being vocal and outspoken, which sometimes doesn’t work well in large organizations where there’s a lot of bureaucracy and hierarchy.”

Her parents immigrated from India and she’s first-generation American. “I think it’s typical of immigrant children: We’re raised to save money. My parents, like a lot of immigrant families, they don’t overspend. They’re really good at saving money. They really believe in working hard.

“So there was always a notion of me needing to be as self-sufficient as possible. … They gave up a lot to come to this country.”

That’s influenced the way she talks to her clients, and, like other advisors, she says it’s cast her in the role of both planner and therapist. “There’s an emotional component to money,” she says. “And if that emotional component is not addressed, it can be a hindrance for people to achieve their goals.” She’s not immune—she said she has often felt there would never be enough money. That’s why she works with a lot of children of immigrants, she says. “I have clients who make a million dollars a year and constantly worry about money. The numbers don’t matter because it’s just how they were raised.” She works with business owners and physicians—her husband is a doctor, and it was he who first suggested she try out financial planning when she was at accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers for seven years.

Financial planning didn’t appeal to her at first. “I thought that planning was wealth management and was only for ultra-wealthy people,” she says. And indeed she worked at an RIA in Chicago for a year and a half where the focus was on investments for the rich. “I couldn’t find a firm that was servicing people in my age group—people in their late 30s, early 40s who are accumulating wealth that didn’t have some sort of minimum asset requirement.” She ended up starting her own firm—FIT, which she launched in 2015.



Dasarte Yarnway
Founder / Berknell Financial Group / San Francisco

Dasarte Yarnway, founder of the Berknell Financial Group, has a passion for democratizing wealth management that’s influenced by his family history. A child of Liberian immigrants, Yarnway says his family in the past had to take long journeys to attend school and work in Liberia’s marketplace, and they eventually left their place of birth for San Francisco to avoid an oncoming civil war.

But he watched his parents struggle to make it in the American system, and saw many others in his community get left behind by traditional financial services. His vision for the future of planning is one where every person, regardless of background or net worth, has the tools to design a life worth living.

Yarnway played football and was the first All-American running back coming out of San Francisco high schools since O.J. Simpson. While playing at the University of California, Berkeley, however, he was set adrift when a knee injury ended a promising playing career.

He applied for 245 different jobs after graduation, eventually landing at an investment management firm. In short stints at Edward Jones and HSBC, he learned the fundamental elements of wealth management and decided he wanted to focus on planning—but he also wanted to serve a broader cross section of society (on his own terms). He founded Berknell in 2016 at age 24.

Today, he works in two tiers. His wealth management offering serves retirees, near-retirees, athletes, start-up professionals and other affluent clients. The other tier is a subscription service for families who have not yet accumulated a large net worth, and they receive financial planning, investment management, estate planning and tax planning services.

Yarnway has also founded the “Young Money” podcast, which he has hosted since 2018. He remains active in social media’s “FinTwit” community, and he has also penned several books, including Young Money: 4 Proven Actions To Design Your Wealth While You Still Can and Pay Me In Equity.

“I think we need to get rid of the idea that serving someone effectively and deeply is accomplished by just thinking about their retirement,” says Yarnway. “Nowadays, there are so many weird ways to make money, you’re seeing people retire earlier and saving more—they’re looking at things differently than they did in the 1980s, and it widens the scope of what we call planning. Advisors have to become comfortable with giving non-traditional advice.”



Nicole Bailey
Partner / Moneta / St. Louis

After helping to spearhead changes that improved conditions for her co-workers, Nicole Bailey became St. Louis-based Moneta’s youngest female partner earlier this year. Bailey has stood out among Moneta’s growing advisor workforce as an advocate for policies that specifically addressed the working conditions of women in the firm while serving on its human resources committee. These policies include extending the RIA’s maternity and paternity leave policies and paid time off, and easing and augmenting its reimbursement policies.

“It became clear to me that as Moneta continued to grow and we started hiring more people out of college and in second or third careers, like myself, that our benefits, especially on maternity and paternity leave, weren’t where we needed to be,” says Bailey. “It came to my attention that at one point we interviewed someone promising, but they turned down the job 100% because the maternity benefits were not satisfactory compared to other places she was considering.”

Bailey has also served on Moneta’s tax strategies advisory board and its culture committee. On the latter, she has promoted employee engagement via listening sessions and events in her workplace. She helped create a new, centralized lunch space so that the firm’s employees could eat together and collaborate.

Bailey also helps to train Moneta’s new hires. She came to the financial planning profession via a brief career in public accounting.

“My interests were more aligned with financial planning,” she says. “I liked the relationship side of the accounting world more than I liked the technical side.”

While at Moneta, which she joined in 2009, Bailey has also applied her talents to the firm’s tradition of community service, serving on the board of the American Red Cross for the Greater St. Louis Area. Moneta’s charitable strategic partners receive grants and volunteer support from the firm, and Bailey helped facilitate a $25,000 grant for a blood transport vehicle to be used by the Red Cross.

“We also do blood drives, which is so needed right now when everyone is trying to practice social distancing,” says Bailey. She has also worked with the USO of Missouri and volunteered in a “Sound the Alarm” campaign, where Moneta employees helped to install fire alarms in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.



Ashby Daniels
Financial Advisor / Shorebridge Wealth Management / Pittsburgh

Ashby Daniels is yet another young advisor who entered the profession “through the side door.” After graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in accounting, he embarked on a short-lived career in that field but knew “within three hours” it wasn’t for him.

A year later he was in the construction industry, working as a superintendent for an urban infill builder in the Washington, D.C., region. But he was still interested in finance, and his family encouraged him to look at becoming an advisor.

In 2008, he took the leap, was hired by First Command, a firm serving military families, and loved it. He moved on to Pittsburgh and Shorebridge Wealth Management, in part because he wanted to write a blog.

At Shorebridge, Daniels has a growing practice focused on retirees and pre-retirees and their families, a niche he prefers. He also does work with some of his friends and clients’ children.

“I view where I am at in my career as an advantage to a retiree,” says Daniels. “I’ll be 37 years old this year. When I’m sitting down with someone who is at age 65, they are choosing whether to hire an advisor that will end up retiring in the next decade, or one who will be with them throughout their entire retirement.”

He still has military and veteran clients who followed him from his old firm; he has a natural rapport with military families after growing up in one himself. “It’s how I started, and it was an easy decision to serve them because I wasn’t out to make the most money,” says Daniels. “Helping people who have served us as Americans is something I feel good about.”

He also sits on the board of his local Financial Planning Association chapter, and has become involved in financial literacy efforts in greater Pittsburgh area schools. And he continues to write his blog, “The Retirement Field Guide,” as outreach to retirees and people near retirement. Since the Covid-19 outbreak put millions of Americans out of work, he has offered 10 free 30-minute planning sessions to the blog’s readers.

“Within 12 hours I got all 10 people signed up for those complimentary sessions.”



Emlen Miles-Mattingly
CEO and Founder / Gen Next Wealth / Madera, Calif.

Emlen Miles-Mattingly took a non-traditional course to founding his own independent investment advisory firm. Out of high school, he began working as a bank teller and eventually became branch manager. But he was attracted to the perceived lifestyle of his branch’s financial advisor.

“Initially, I didn’t know what it was that they did, but just seeing them come in late driving a nice car made me curious,” says Miles-Mattingly. That led him to enroll in the University of Phoenix’s business administration program while taking an entry-level advisor position with Edward Jones.

“As I began to dig in, I realized that the job was about relationships and helping people, and that’s what attracted me. It’s funny. I’m not materialistic at all. … As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized that relationships have more value than those material things.”

After a seven-year stretch as an advisor with Principal Financial Group in Fresno, he decided to return home to Madera, Calif., to found Gen Next Wealth in 2017 and serve families in that diverse city. He also began hosting the “Minority Money Podcast.”

“There was nothing that I could find like this here in Madera where people could get unbiased advice, and I’m passionate about the city I live in—I wanted to help as many people here as I could before I tried to go help anyone else,” he says. “People here know they can talk to me and ask regular questions, and get answers that avoid all of the jargon and treat them like regular people.”

Like many other young independent advisors, he offers tiers of service to serve a larger client segment in his community, with his most basic tier of service, financial planning, available for a monthly subscription, while higher tiers include AUM fees. Yet his focus is on helping minority families achieve generational wealth, which he envisions as enabling lasting change in communities of color.

“We have a family practice,” he says. “My clients refer their family members. This is what I tell them: ‘If you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table and not everyone at the table knows who I am, I haven’t done a good job.’ I should be discussed around the table when you’re with your family.”



Jeffrey Levine
Director Of Advanced Planning / Buckingham Wealth Partners / Long Island, N.Y.

Jeffrey Levine takes a nerd’s approach to financial planning—to the point that he was invited by high-profile planner Michael Kitces to contribute to a growing web community dedicated to the nerdy side of financial planning.

In fact, it was Levine’s relationship with Kitces and his contributions to the “Nerd’s Eye View” blog at that led him to become director of advanced planning at Buckingham Wealth Partners, one of the largest RIAs in the U.S. Together, Levine and Kitces are responsible for offering thousands of hours of continuing education credits to advisors through their writings and presentations.

“It’s my mission to make CE and tax-related CE in particular less boring,” says Levine. “All of the work that I’m doing through is 100% to get out there and educate others so they can better serve the community at large.”

To that purpose, Levine has also launched a series of “Savvy” educational services and products for advisors, including Savvy IRA Planning, Savvy Cybersecurity, Savvy Medicare and Savvy Tax Planning.

Levine was originally on track to attend medical school, but he discovered medicine is controlled largely by insurance companies, not the doctors on the front line. He looked to his family for guidance around the time he graduated. Luckily, his mother was a managing partner for Ed Slott & Co., where Levine occasionally worked on breaks from school. He decided to use that background to launch his financial career.

Still, he was discouraged by all the selling that had to be done at the entry level in wealth management. He eventually took a position with Slott & Co., where he honed his public speaking, IRA and tax planning skills while keeping advisory clients of his own. Eventually, he founded his own RIA, the Blueprint Wealth Alliance.

Many advisors consider his work at “Nerd’s Eye View” must-read material. He’s often among the first in the profession to review new laws and regulations and parse them. “I’ve always been a naturally curious person,” he says. “I have to know everything right away. When news about these rules and laws break … I end up doing crazy tweet-storms going through the material.”