After all the stats that have been published, after all the statements the “experts” have given, everyone seems so certain that Millennials will never make financial investments, let alone leave their parents’ basement. In this modern age of robo-advisors, delegating to technological solutions on demand, you would think that a good old-fashioned Financial Advisor must be outright passé.
Surprisingly, not only is this generation — about 80 million strong here in the US — wholeheartedly embracing financial investments, they are actually actively seeking out advice from real professional advisors. Millennials are moving out of Mom & Dad’s house, getting married, and starting families. After years of living with their parents rent-free, they have smartly squirreled away stockpiles of cash. With this great confluence of needing to now plan for the financial security, along with money available to invest, there is a realization that true expertise is needed and Millennials are now seeking it in droves.
Millennials are Making Financial Moves
This idea of Millennials wanting professional financial advice has certainly caught financial advisors off-guard. Evidence of their shift in behavior has come in many forms. Take, for example, a former intern of Payne Capital Management, now in his mid-twenties, who emailed the firm to talk business. He apparently had socked away almost $100,000. Not too shabby, considering he hadn’t been in the workforce that long. He articulated his desire to have an investment & financial plan put together and as a caveat didn’t want an automated solution, but wanted to work with a seasoned planner that could advise him and build a long term relationship with. Talk about debunking millennial myths.
Since this phone call, the firm has seen more and more millennials walking into the doors of its offices, asking the same questions their parents did over 2 decades ago. “Does buying a house make sense?” “If so, what size mortgage should we take on?” “Is my 401(k) plan properly allocated?” Advisors are now solving a lot of the same “old school” problems for this new generation of investors, a good reminder that Millennials are more like our parents than they would really like to admit.
The myth of the millennial investor isn’t just anecdotal. The 2017 Global Investment Survey by Legg Mason Global Asset Management found that only 14% of Millennials say they don’t have savings or investments. That’s compared to 19% of Baby Boomers.
Although many of the issues are still the same, there are two major differences that need to be addressed when advising this new wave of savers. First, and relatively obvious, technology is paramount. Younger investors and even a handful of baby boomers, want great technology. Convenience and ease rule the day. Today, investors must be able to access their total financial life in one place. Having a gateway to access daily net worth, budgeting, a complete view of all their accounts, no matter what financial institutional they are held in, is becoming the standard. It’s key that Millennials have an on demand portal to access a current view of their financial picture, and it’s almost always a prerequisite to work with Millennial investors.
Financial Independence is the Ultimate Destination, Not Retirement
Secondly, Millennials don’t view retirement as a destination. The idea of working to 65 to finally retire with a proverbial gold watch and spend the rest of their days golfing in the Florida Sunshine just doesn’t apply anymore.
The new conversation is about designing a life of Financial Independence. This younger generation is a mobile generation. They want to travel, work remotely, maybe take a mini retirement during their prime career building years, and even extend their professional life well past the customary retirement age of 65. It’s not uncommon for a newly married young couple to discuss at length their desire to spend an entire year traveling the world before they turn 30. Questions like, “How much money do we need to save or put aside?” “Can we work remotely for extra cash?” “How does that effect the long term nest egg we are building?” are commonplace for Gen Y. Creating a lifestyle that embraces financial freedom along the way versus planning for one set date in the distant future to live off your smart investments is what modern financial planning is starting to look like.
Make Financial Investments Early
Wealth advice is not dead. Like the generations before them, millennials still want to settle down, purchase homes, educate their newly born children, and establish a certain amount of financial security for themselves. The need to plan for these issues is just as important as it has ever been. But Millennials are more mobile, more technologically demanding than generations before. They demand better access, ease, and flexibility in the financial investments that are designed for them. They don’t want to create a destination, but a journey of financial independence.
Ryan Payne is president of Payne Capital Management, where he co-designs the firm’s investment and financial planning strategies, and supervises the firm’s financial advisors. Prior to launching PCM, Ryan was a top financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. He is a graduate of Villanova University.