In many ways, younger advisors were ahead of the curve when Covid hit. They already knew how technology was going to change the ways we all work. They already knew that the college debt crisis and wage pressures had given the young clients they work with a different set of problems.

This generation was shaped by three extraordinary events in the early stages of their adult and professional lives—the dot-com crash, the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The first occurred as the generation’s oldest members had just reached adulthood. The second struck just as many were launching their careers as advisors, tossing them headfirst into a world of scared clients holding assets plummeting in value. The last occurred as many of them were growing independent businesses or innovating with different methods of delivering advice.

“I think we’re leading with empathy,” says Joseph Lum, co-founder of Intersect Capital. “We’ve seen everything, good and bad. A lot of the situations we’re seeing with clients we’ve experienced before, ourselves, in our families or in the communities around us.”

These financial calamities have rocked the worldviews of millennials. That means the advisors serving them have a different host of issues to contend with—many aren’t selling their investment expertise so much as guidance on things like student loans, home purchases and budgeting.

Some are fighting to remove the taboo around having conversations about money both in public and around the dinner table.

“We’re making money conversations personal, and that’s how we’re forging personal connections,” says Chad Chubb, founder of WealthKeel. “This topic is still so taboo, but we have to make it more relatable so that we can talk openly about finances. We have to make it more hands-on, more fun and more exciting.” It also means moving finances beyond savings, stocks and bonds.

Many of these advisors have responded to adversity with an eagerness to evolve and improve the financial services industry, whether it be through serving a larger pool of clients via technology, expanding the bounds of financial services by promoting diversity and inclusion, educating clients and non-clients through digital communications, or expanding into niches to deliver specialized advice to those poorly served by generic financial planning.

For advisors like Strategy Squad founder Nicole Middleton Holloway, it wasn’t enough to be in the profession—she wanted to reshape it.

“I wanted something more impactful than working at a Wall Street firm,” Holloway says. “I want to be sitting on the boards. I want to have more influence on the way capital is dispersed, allocated and managed.”



Michael Policar
Founder / NGP Financial Planning / Sammamish, Wash.

Michael Policar is a natural communicator, and that’s why he’s named his new firm “NGP Financial Planning” after going out on his own on January 8.

“NGP is an abbreviation for ‘needs, goals and priorities.’ It stands for everything I do for clients,” says Policar. “When I first talk with someone, it always starts out with what do you need, climbing up Maslow’s hierarchy. Then it moves towards what are your goals: What do you want? Once we know what we need and what we want, we can figure out our priorities.”

He doesn’t come from a financial background, but he became enthralled by investing in the fourth grade thanks to a teacher who used a newspaper stock market page to teach fractions. In response, Policar started tracking stocks at age 10 and bought his first investments at age 13.

In college, he fell in love with the idea of being a sportscaster and studied journalism and mass communication. After a few years in the radio industry, he entered a wirehouse brokerage’s advisor training program, eventually moving on to found NGP. Yet he never fully left radio.

In 2018 he founded the “15 Minute Financial Advisor” podcast—a brand he’s since had to abandon since founding NGP—and built a weekly audience of 8,000 listeners.

“I saw somewhere that at least half if not more of people who listen to podcasts listen to them with headphones on or in their car, and to me, that means it’s the same as you and I having a conversation,” he says. “So I end up recording these as if I’m having a one-to-one conversation. I’m in your ear. My goal with them is to build a library of goals and information and action items.”

Policar is also active on social media as part of Twitter’s FinTwit (Financial Twitter) community. “I thought it would be good marketing, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I learn more from Twitter than anything else. … It’s like a cheat code for learning.”



Nicole Middleton Holloway
Principal / Strategy Squad / Oakland, Calif.

Like many young advisors, Nicole Middleton Holloway had a family connection to the financial services industry, but she took an unusual path to establishing her own practice at Oakland, Calif.-based Strategy Squad in 2016.

After school, Holloway embarked on a decade-long career in the entertainment industry, helping to produce content for FX Networks before serving as a communications director and producer for Danny Glover, an actor with strong interests in political and social activism. It was in that role that she discovered her interest in mission-driven work.

“I left entertainment because it made me feel a bit powerless,” Holloway says. “I grew to realize that, fundamentally, I was trying to get to economic empowerment. That became especially clear when I took a sabbatical, left the U.S. and went to live in Brazil for a time. When I returned, I jumped into finance, which meant graduate school, because I realized I had more ability to influence in that career.”

She did a short stint at a wirehouse in 2015, but was frustrated with its lack of movement toward ESG investing and its antiquated corporate culture. Holloway decided to set out as an independent, merging her new advisory practice with her father’s CPA business.

Today, Strategy Squad serves a clientele that consists mostly of younger women and specializes in entrepreneurs and new inheritors of wealth. These clients, according to Holloway, are still working age and are very values-driven, but have some deficits in financial literacy and experience.

Holloway also serves as a mentor and instructor for the Uptima Business Bootcamp, a non-profit providing education and resources for entrepreneurs from minority communities.

“I have clients that tell me they want to give away 90% of their wealth, and my CFP training would say no to that, but I’m also a citizen,” says Holloway. “I’m trying to give good advice, and I’m trying to change the world at the same time. I believe in challenging the status quo. If people want to be part of a solution for a more equitable society, then I want to show them how they can participate.”



Chloé A. Moore
Founder and Principal / Financial Staples / Atlanta

Chloé Moore found her own financial independence at age 18 even though she didn’t have much money starting out. Inspired by The Millionaire Next Door as well as a grandmother who taught her how to stretch a dollar, Moore paid her own way through college.

She saw that people are often not served by financial services. “Not everyone is in a position to follow the rules to a T. There are people who are struggling to pay their bills or who have made financial mistakes because they don’t have that knowledge growing up.”

Before launching her own firm, she started first with mass affluent clients—then very wealthy ones with $10 million and more. She was living in Baton Rouge, La., when Hurricane Katrina hit. That helped shape her opinions on how catastrophe strikes those who have (and who don’t have) access to financial resources. Another experience that would shape her future firm: She was underpaid.

“There are a lot of struggles with being a Black woman and a young Black woman, so I was a triple minority in the industry.” At the same time, she figured she could be serving a wider spectrum of people with more down-to-earth problems—dealing with the albatrosses of huge student loan debt and shrinking wages.

Her plan was to help underserved communities. But she also found she drew a lot of young tech employee clients to her door, especially people of color, clients with high income but not enough in assets to meet the minimums at her old firms. Some were in the position to see huge windfalls if their companies went public, but only if they made sure they had the right packages.

Moore helps add that value. “I do work with a lot of people of color in tech, and black women specifically in tech, and them being extremely underpaid and me knowing how much their white counterparts are getting paid for the same roles. … So I’ve helped clients negotiate higher salaries or told clients, ‘You’re underpaid. You should be making at least $20,000 or $30,000 more or you should be asking for equity.’”

Moore is also a co-founder of the BLatinx Internship, which seeks to place Black and Latinx financial advisors with paid internships. “We’re in the matching process right now for our first summer cohort,” she says.



Brent Weiss
Co-Founder / Facet Wealth / Baltimore

As a child raised by grandparents, Brent Weiss watched his grandfather work well into his 80s to support the family.

“I didn’t understand why he was working,” says Weiss. “When I became a CFP, I sat down and realized my grandparents had sacrificed their own financial health to make sure that I had better opportunities, and I told myself that no one should have to sacrifice so much just to create opportunities for their kids.”

Weiss began his career just out of school in a boutique wealth management firm “downloading in Schwab PortfolioCenter, answering phones, scheduling, making customer service calls” and earning CFP and chartered financial consultant designations. By age 28, he was a partner at the firm and had become so well-respected in training fledgling advisors that other firms asked him to train their junior personnel.

It still wasn’t enough.

“I realized that a couple of things were missing in the industry,” he says. “The quality of advice, across the board, was not very good at the time, and I saw that at conferences where I was being told to do less for my client because I was doing too much. … Two, and more importantly, access was lacking.”

Weiss’s mission became one of discovering how to offer professional, personalized, one-on-one advice from a CFP to Americans of moderate incomes. In 2016, he met technology entrepreneur Anders Jones, and Facet Wealth was born.

Using technology and a flat subscription fee, Facet Wealth is targeting its fiduciary advice at the market of 36 million U.S. households that bring in more than $80,000 but have not yet accessed goals-based planning or advice free from conflicts. Weiss now serves as chief evangelist for the concept.

“I’m the keeper of the cause, the spreader of the word and a champion for financial empowerment,” he says. “We started Facet Wealth out of a belief that access to unbiased personal financial advice is essential. Part of my job is to spread the word that Facet Wealth exists as an elevated standard as to what consumers should expect from their financial advisors.”

Weiss also pitches in by making client and prospect calls.



Chad Chubb
Founder / WealthKeel / Philadelphia

Chad Chubb had envisioned himself as a sports agent before two internship stints with Merrill Lynch made him realize he loved financial planning.

“I decided that, OK, I would just manage money—but I was fortunate that I sent out a ton of cold emails when looking for a first job,” says Chubb, a Penn State graduate whose first out-of-school job ended up being with a small firm based in State College, Pa., that engaged in comprehensive financial planning. “They were doing things the right way, and allowed me to build my own practice.”

After earning his CFP mark in 2015, Chubb flew the nest with his lead advisor’s blessing and moved to Philadelphia to form WealthKeel.

Realizing that many of his new neighbors in Philadelphia were young physicians just setting out on their own careers, Chubb quickly made that his new niche.

“I fell in love with the niche. It just clicked,” he says. “Their financial lives are complicated, with a lot of moving parts. We were all going through the same life phases together, which helped us form a personal connection. As we have matured into our niche, we’ve hit a very big growth mode where all we’re doing now is helping Gen X and Gen Y physicians, day in and day out.”

Working with young physicians meant that Chubb had to become comfortable working with clients who had six figures of debt and negative net worth. Moving a doctor from residency, where their salaries may still be measured in five digits, to a practice, where they may earn hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year, has become WealthKeel’s specialty.

The client engagement is so central to his practice that Chubb outsources most of his investment management.

He is also trying to give other young advisors opportunities to enter the industry and grow their own practices under WealthKeel’s watch.

“My paraplanner, Zack, is in Ohio and will be earning his CFP this summer, and our No. 1 staff member is in Minneapolis,” says Chubb. “I want Zack to have the opportunity to evolve into a fantastic advisor with no handcuffs in place. That’s the same opportunity that was given to me, and it’s important.”



Joseph Lum
Wealth Advisor / Intersect Capital / San Ramon, Calif.

Joseph Lum wasn’t supposed to be an advisor. In fact, he was on his way to being the next in a long line of dentists in his family, taking a premedical/pre-dental route through school and taking internships not correlated to science. Then one of those internships took him into the world of sports.

“I kind of fell into a world of accounting, family office services and personal (chief financial officer) services for pro athletes, entertainers and other ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families,” says Lum. “I quickly realized that on the accounting side, it’s very backwards looking.” The firm did nothing to change behavior if it looked back and saw that clients had done themselves financial harm. “We were looking back … with no conversations surrounding how do we curb or change that.”

So in 2013 Lum entered the world of RIAs, and in 2014, founded his own firm, Intersect Capital, to serve a clientele of mostly young professional athletes. He and his business partner started the firm with a little over $300 million in assets under management, which over the last seven years has grown to $1.3 billion.

Attracting athletes as clients has required altering some of the conventional advisory wisdom, says Lum, such as shifting the focus away from investing. Most young athletes outside the stratosphere of high draft picks don’t make huge salaries, he says, but are still encountering wealth for the first time in their lives—oftentimes for the first time in their family history.

Thus, Intersect acts as a multifamily office handling clients’ expenses, banking, insurance, home purchases and other financial duties, using an RIA’s fiduciary approach and the firm’s scale to drive down costs as much as possible.

“We have clients who are fine, or on paper are wealthy beyond most people’s wildest dreams,” he says. “But because of something they learned or grew up to fear, they never move past Maslow’s hierarchy of food, safety and security. They still feel like they’re scraping for everything. That makes them great savers, but it’s not a good life to live.

“We help them to use wealth not just to better their own lives, but for the next generation and people around them. Wealth means more than just accumulating things.”



Kevin Mahoney
Founder and CEO / Illumint / Washington D.C.

As a teenager, Kevin Mahoney was a huge football fan and wanted to work in the NFL. He didn’t have the build of a football player or the experience to be a scout, but he found an unusual niche: salary cap management. He did this work for several teams while still in college, including the Cleveland Browns, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Football Team. “For a big sports fan, I could see a direct connection between how those dollars were managed and what the product on the field actually looked like.”

Later on, while getting his MBA at Georgia Tech, he also worked for the Atlanta Fed, where his tenure overlapped with the foreclosure crisis in the late 2000s and he was able to look at how economies affect low- and moderate-income communities. He also got interested in real estate finance and later worked in real estate investment management with wealthy clients.

But given all his knowledge and his degrees, he still often found himself having to research his own personal finance issues. “I thought, ‘If I’m having this reaction, what are my friends with no finance background thinking? How much stress are they feeling?’” His friends started having kids and were asking questions about 529 plans and housing. He started to think of using his background to help his peers.

The XY Planning Network was a great help to him in providing peer mentors and support for things he had to learn to start his own firm—like setting up technology and compliance and implementing alternative fee models. “I don’t charge AUM. I never have. I don’t have any plans to.”

His experience means he’s not leading with investments so much as helping clients navigate things like housing and student loan burdens. “Not having come up through the business in a traditional model and perhaps not having older mentors I think has been beneficial in many ways. Because in how I think about things, I haven’t been at all constrained by what the traditional or the right way of doing things may be.”



Anderson Lafontant
Senior Advisor, Advanced Planning / Miracle Mile Advisors / Los Angeles

Not many people have dads in the pit trading on the Cboe and Chicago Board of Trade, but Anderson Lafontant did, and in the mid-2000s, she occasionally got to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and go watch traders maniacally waving hand signals. “There were huge boards; you could watch spreads and see all the different commodities and how quickly they were moving.” The excitement was intoxicating, but the stress was too, especially when the business was overtaken by high-frequency trading and everything changed, a phenomenon she said she felt at home.

Lafontant says growing up with that experience affected her in more ways than one. Technology has changed the entire financial world, she says, not just commodities trading. Advisory clients get up to speed in days—not in weeks like before. Fees for trading have evaporated. Advisors are living in a different world, too.

She studied international relations rather than finance at UCLA, but Lafontant knew she’d work in business. “I appreciated having a much more macro approach to the world and I took that with me when I started my career at Miracle Mile.” She began as an intern at the firm nine years ago and has been there ever since. Founded by two investment bank veterans, Miracle Mile, with about $2 billion in assets, works with high-net-worth families, executives and entrepreneurs. Starting with a smaller firm close to the ground floor allowed Lafontant to be well-rounded and wear many hats, she says.

“My first task was to hire an analyst team, find a new office space. I was helping with operations. I was building the presentation book. So I was pretty much doing everything. My hands were in every single cookie jar.” Over time, she has developed her own work with entrepreneurs and executives—“people at public companies that have stock option plans, that are dealing with equity packages, and we’re able to help them walk through each of those processes.”

The firm helps these clients go through liquidity events. It numbers employees at Netflix, Snapchat and Disney among its clients and has worked with apparel company Revolve to help the executives before the company’s IPO, working with their stock options and liquidity. “All of the executives that we work with are pretty much millennials or very young Gen X’s.”



Grant Meyer
Founder / GTS Financial / Bloomington, Minn.

One of the reasons Grant Meyer started his own firm early this year was that he had begun to hate traditional fee models. “Nobody actually understands what they pay for financial advice, especially if they’re on an AUM model,” he says. One of the clients at his old firm asked how much they paid. “I walked them through how they actually calculate an AUM, where it’s an average daily balance and a daily fee, and every month the fee is different because the account balances change. As the account grows in time, they pay more, but they’re not getting more.” One client’s understanding was so out of whack that he thought he was paying $3,000 a year when it was actually $14,000 (he was confused by a 1099 deduction that didn’t tell the whole story, says Meyer).

Meyer’s new firm, GTS Financial, uses a flat annual fee in dollars, never in percentages. It’s divided by 12 and there’s a fixed monthly fee. When clients ask what they pay, he can give them a quick dollar amount.

He also wanted to align investments with client values by integrating socially responsible investing in all the firm’s portfolios. “Rather than us just picking a portfolio based upon your age and your goals … I also want to know what you care about. Do you care about gender equality? Do you care about renewable energy—the environment? Do you care about consumer firearms and not having them in your portfolio?” He’s also carved out a niche working with widows after one of his clients passed away, leaving his wife adrift financially. Meyer started volunteering with a nonprofit called Wings for Widows that offers coaching for those who have lost spouses.

He didn’t want to be an advisor when he was younger. He associated it with high-pressure sales. But while doing practice interviews, he landed an internship at a small, fee-only financial firm.

“I didn’t go through a broker-dealer, I didn’t go through a sales channel. I just started in a holistic financial planning shop right from the get-go at the beginning of 2008.” He says that RIA firms don’t always have as many positions or training programs as the large brokers do, and that puts younger advisors at a disadvantage.



Jake Northrup
Founder / Experience Your Wealth / Bristol, R.I.

Jake Northrup had an early, unhappy experience with financial planning when his father died suddenly of a stroke at age 63, right before retiring. “I actually found myself across the table with my mom next to me, eating with my parents’ financial planner, just talking through estate and life insurance and all these things we didn’t want to be dealing with. But we were so thankful that we had someone across the table that knew our family and had our best interest at heart.” Northrup went on to intern with his family’s advisor and develop a philosophy about money—the art beyond the science, and the fulfillment beyond the numbers.

“The purpose of money is to experience it,” he says. “You never know when life is going to be short.”

His first job was at Ballentine Partners in Boston, where he worked with high-net-worth individuals. “The day-to-day work I was doing was amazing, the clients were amazing, but I was basically helping wealthier people become more wealthy.” There were two things he started to pine for: to be his own boss and to have clients he could better relate to.

As he planned a move to Rhode Island with his wife (a wedding planner) to be closer to family, he envisioned a practice where he and his clients were growing together and pursuing similar generational passions (starting businesses, or in his case, travel; Northrup says he’s been all over the world). The idea is to ask clients what they would be doing if money weren’t an obstacle. He launched his firm in the fall of 2019.

One of his biggest (unpleasant) surprises with this new clientele was how much student debt younger people had taken on. “This is not something that’s taught in a CFP curriculum. I had zero experience with that.” He got the certified student loan professional designation and had to learn about public service loan forgiveness, taxable loan forgiveness, whether a person should refinance. He says he’s caught loan servicers making mistakes that could have cost clients thousands. “I knew student loans were complex, but before I had that training I didn’t understand how complex they were.

“There’s a whole world there where there are so many planning opportunities you can have.”