The Financial Planner’s Guide to Navigating the Millennial Minds

financial planner sits across from young millennial man

The biggest wealth transfer in history is on the horizon. There is an estimated $68 trillion dollars that will be inherited by Millennials from their Baby Boomer parents in the coming years. How and who will manage all that money? Since Millennials have more non-traditional choices for investment management than their parents, financial planners and advisors need to find the right approach to attract these young investors. We have put together a guide for financial planners to see the investment world through the eyes of Millennials.

Technology and Investing for Millennials

For Millennials, who were born in the 1980s and 1990s, it’s all about technology – they grew up with it. They use it for everything: ordering lunch, paying bills, getting an Uber, making appointments… the list goes on. And when it comes to money management, there’s an app for that, too. 

Millennials have turned to interactive apps like Moneyfarm and Nutmeg that are taking the place of traditional financial planning services for investing and retirement. UnBlu reports that 67% of Millennials say they prefer digital advisory services compared to 30% of Baby Boomers and Generation X investors.

The fact is, the majority of Millennials leave their parents’ advisors after receiving an inheritance and go at it alone. CNBC cites a survey by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors where just 21% of Millennials report they use an advisor. More than half – 62% – of the post-Baby Boomers surveyed use social media or online sources to get their financial advice.    

Related: Millennials, Ask Your Parents About Their Estate Plan

There is Hope for Financial Planners

After enduring the Great Recession of 2008 and now the COVID-19 pandemic, Millennials are less optimistic about their financial future and have a different view of working with a financial professional. A Nationwide Retirement Institute survey in 2020 found that 75% of Millennials want to work with an advisor compared to less than 50% polled four years earlier. Here’s why, according to XY Planning:

  • Student Debt – The average Millennial has $30,000 in student loan debt with 63% having more than $10K in student loans. About 75% carry some form of debt.
  • An Uncertain Financial Future – More than half of Millennials don’t have a retirement account and it is likely most won’t be able to retire until they’re in their 70s. 
  • Increased Cost of Living – Housing prices and rent have increased faster than incomes; Millennials are paying nearly 40% more than Baby Boomers who bought their first home in the 1980s. In 2017, the average Millennial made just over $35,000, when adjusted for inflation, that is roughly 20% less than Baby Boomers made at the same age.
  • Less savings, more spending – Millennials are bigger spenders than their predecessor generations; they want the latest technology, enjoy frequent dining out, and expensive conveniences. As a result, they have less money to put away for their future financial needs.

There are more than 75 million Millennials, representing about 25% of the population. With ages ranging from late 20s to early 40s, they are a key client for financial planners. But, as mentioned, Millennials have a different outlook when it comes to financial services.

Financial Planners and Millennials

Since Millennials are now taking a more critical look at how they want to save and manage their money, financial planners have an opportunity to connect with their Baby Boomer clients’ offspring.

Related: Upcoming Webinar: How Financial Planners Can Build Lifelong Client Relationships

A lack of relationship with the children of Baby Boomers is the main reason planners can’t retain their accounts, according to a survey of 544 advisors by Investment News. That survey also showed 72% of planners only meet with their clients’ children once a year or not at all. 

So, what must planners do to turn this around? Here are some steps:

  1. Offer a hybrid service – Financial advisors and planners can integrate technology with personal service. Many traditional firms are offering “robo” or robot investing where a client can download an app from their company to make trades or cash transfers and keep tabs on their accounts.
  2. The personal touch – Millennials like the personalized services that apps and online services provide. So, planners must customize their services to their young clients, not the usual “one size fits all” approach.
  3. Make it affordable – Most online services are very affordable, charging small fees or none at all. As an example, the investing app Robinhood has a zero commission. Traditional investment services like TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, E-Trade, and Charles Schwab have reduced many of their fees to zero in an attempt to be competitive.
  4. Social/Environmental Impacts – Companies that demonstrate social and environmental practices are attractive to Millennials. Morgan Stanley’s recent poll found that 86% of Millennials are interested in sustainable investing and are twice as likely to sell a company’s equities if they are not socially or environmentally conscientious.
  5. Be engaging – Take the complexities out of explaining investing and portfolios. Be compelling with your advice, but make it engaging, easy to understand, and even fun. Remember, mobile apps offer a light, but educational approach.

What Millennials Look for in a Financial Planner

Millennials want real financial planning. They want an advisor/planner to guide them financially as they begin their journey in adult life – beginning a career, getting married, buying their first home, having children, etc. 

  • Having a Focus – Most Millennials are concerned about how their household income will carry them. That needs to be your focus: allocating their cash flow and developing ways for it to grow while paying down debt.
  • Tech savvy – You need a strong online presence. Millennials aren’t going to look you up in the phone book to find you. Therefore, you will need an engaging website and be active on social media. Also, you need to offer online financial tools.
  • Trust – Millennials value a trusting relationship. Having open and honest communication will make your young clients feel comfortable coming to you with concerns and questions. Understanding their needs and educating them about their financial well-being will empower them to make informed financial decisions.

Most Millennials Lack an Estate Plan

A troubling find is that a majority of Millennials, 71%, do not have a Will or an estate plan. The Nationwide Retirement Institute survey noted that those who do have a Will were prompted to create one by three events: the COVID-19 pandemic, having new children, and getting married.

Related: Why Everyone Over 18 Needs an Estate Plan

Why do so few Millennials have a Will? It seems most feel they do not need one because they are too young or they are healthy, they lack the understanding of its importance, and don’t know where to get one.

Financial planners need to instill to Millennials that an estate plan is an integral part of any financial plan. A Will, Trust, and other estate planning documents are needed to protect assets and decisions so loved ones won’t be left with a legal mess.

Gentreo's Online Estate Plan

Gentreo has the tools so you can create an online estate plan. We also have coaches and licensed estate planning attorneys in all 50 states you can connect with to guide you and provide advice with your estate plan. The estate plan and other important documents can be securely stored in the Gentreo Digital Family Vault, where they can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere with just a couple clicks.

Related: Why 1:1 Coaching is so Important When Creating Your Online Will 

The Next Generation of Financial Planners

According to, the wealth management industry is facing its greatest challenge in decades: securing talent to meet the needs of the new millennium. The retirement of Baby Boomers will lead to a 32% growth in financial planning over the next decade. 

Baby Boomers have already begun to transfer wealth to their children, the latter who will be the target clients for financial advisors/planners. These young, new investors prefer young planners. However, the replenishment of retiring planners with younger professionals is not keeping up with future needs.

Did you know that 70% of advisors still perform paper transactions? As we mentioned, Millennials love their tech, and firms need to have strong digital support in place. And future financial planners and their firms need to implement strategic technology to attract and retain current and future Millennial clients.


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