If you want long-term millennial clients, hire Gen Y advisors

By Vanessa De La Rosa

Generation Yers, aka millennials, don’t have the best reputation: They’re often accused of being impatient, self-centered and irresponsible with their money. While the $28-trillion transfer of wealth estimated for the next eight years makes them attractive as potential prospects, a growing number are also entering the financial planning workforce.

David Grant of Vantage Financial Partners recently offered an interesting perspective at the NAPFA conference in Las Vegas: You can attract more Gen Y clients by hiring and retaining more Gen Y advisors or employees. It’s a long-term investment: By acquiring younger employees, you’re going to stay on-point with evolving financial planning paradigms, and you’ll attract Gen Y investors in the meantime.

Here are six of David Grant’s tips for attracting and retaining Gen Y advisors.

1. Technology and image

The first chance an advisor has at making a great first impression is to have a stream-lined, well-designed website. If you don’t have a social media presence, a potential Gen Y employee may lose interest in your firm, says Grant. The more evolved technology, the better — dual monitors, touch-screen interactive devices, etc.

2. Culture and philosophy

Grant articulates that Gen Y planners “have a sensitive nose — they can smell the culture of a firm.” Will they be encouraged to learn and grow, and does this atmosphere feel like a good match? After surveying NAPFA Genesis members (130 fee-only professionals, age 33 or younger), Grant found that many would rather work for less compensation at a culture that “feels right” than work for more compensation at a culture that felt unpleasant.
3. Tasks and engagements

Whether working on plans, marketing strategies or directly with clients, Gen Yers want a variety of tasks. Grant also notes that younger planners would appreciate more generation-specific projects, where they can best contribute their knowledge to grow your firm in relevant ways (especially handy if you’re behind on the social media bandwagon, for example).

4. Flexibility and balance

Gen Y employees expect to be able to attend a special obligation, making up the time later. Planners told Grant they would work elsewhere if a company wasn’t supportive of this flexibility and work-life balance. “They’re looking for flexibility and don’t see work as 9-5 anymore. Times have changed,” he adds.

5. Education and confidence

Grant suggests investing in your Gen Y employees. Paying for them to further their licensure or to attend industry events demonstrates their value and your confidence in them. And, Grant notes, they could bring in more clients by getting out there and learning first-hand.

6. Compensation and feedback

As noted earlier, Gen Yers aren’t entirely money-motivated, and they often value a great company atmosphere over salary, but Grant advises employers to be open and honest about compensation. Address it head-on, explain the path to equity ownership if applicable, and make sure to take the time and effort to go over compensation during every review period.