It’s a given that any client walking into a financial advisor’s office will have assets to be managed. That’s not the case, though, for many millennials.
For this demographic, says Kristen Euretig, CFP and founder of New York-based planning firm Brooklyn Plans, building up an asset base is, more often than not, second, if not third, on the to-do list of proper financial planning. Many millennials are struggling with credit card debt, she says, and they have onerous student loans they need to pay off. Even if they’re professionals in well-paying jobs, these hurdles have to be crossed – or at any rate, they need to become manageable — before they can think of saving and planning for the future.
Although many financial advisors understand that millennials are an important client base, most do not really understand the needs of the generation, Euretig says.
“Most millennials feel they don’t belong in the financial planning space as it is,” she says. “There’s a feeling that financial advisors are not providing many of the services that they need, that they’re not aware of the issues they’re facing and can’t advise millennials on the things that are important to them, like the best way to repay student loans, for example.”
Because many millennials are resolute in that “they are not Country Club Guys,” they stay away from advisors, Euretig says, because they broadly perceive the latter as catering toward a high-net-worth clientele and opening their doors only to those who have a sizeable amount of assets.
A millennial herself, Euretig saw a gap in the financial planning space and an opportunity to provide the range of services that millennials are looking for to help them gather enough assets to start thinking about financial planning and investing. She felt there was a particular need for those services in New York, a city full of millennials — many of them up-and-coming professionals with bright and prosperous futures ahead of them — but where most financial planning firms and services are geared either toward HNW individuals or older people in lower-income communities.
She started a blog, youngbrokeawesome.com, to communicate with like-minded young people like herself. Unlike many older advisors, “I’m open and not afraid to say things,” she says. “We’re of a different generation, one where things like homosexuality and gay marriage are totally normal. Millennials appreciate openness – they are looking to connect with like-minded people and with Millennials, you have to be authentic.”
At Brooklyn Plans, Euretig provides her client base (which includes people straight out of school, starting their first jobs and young couples thinking of starting a family) with a nuts-and-bolts, holistic approach to financial stability that’s designed to get them firmly on their feet. She looks through their current financial positions, focusing on debt, with a fine-toothed comb.
“I then come up with a plan; student loan repayment has to be a part of that plan,” she says. “Most of my clients are fixated on student loan debt but they also have credit card debt, which often comes with much higher interest rates. I do the research and analysis for the best payment plan options, because I find that a lot of people are on payment plans that are just not right for them and they don’t have the right tools to figure out the amount of loan forgiveness for various plans and so on.”
Then, Euretig draws an account flow chart so her clients can see “what’s going in and what’s going out” and helps them set up separate accounts, including loan repayment accounts and an account for their spending money, “and I put them on a weekly allowance.”
In time, clients can get to a stage of opening a savings account for the future that they can start to build from for their lifetime financial goals.
“Many of my clients are now building assets that they will soon be able to invest,” Euretig says.
Euretig’s business approach reflects the financial status of her millennial clients.
A ‘client’ of Brooklyn Plans can pay $175/hour for a la carte advice, or a fee ranging from $1,650 to $2,400 for plans ranging from ‘The Professional Plan’ to ‘The Growing Family’ plan. Not only are those payment options displayed prominently on Euretig’s home page, but clients can pay for their plans in installments.
She also gets her clients to set up a “stability fund” lest anything untoward should happen to them and she urges them to have a “freedom fund” so that they can enjoy their youth. She considers this highly important, given that New York is, arguably, one of the greatest cities in the world.
“So many people are bogged down in paying off debt but they need to have some fun as well,” she says.
Euretig, who studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language in college, became fascinated with finance and financial planning while working in low-income neighborhood schools in New York. After qualifying as a CFP, she worked for a high-net-worth RIA firm on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, but that sort of financial planning, she says, never felt right to her.