Millennials are broke, fed-up and too busy stuffing their faces with avocados in order to forget about their gloomy futures.
Or so the cliché goes… but is there more to the story?
An emerging body of evidence suggests the outlook for generation Y may not be entirely hopeless. With an estimated £5.5trn set to trickle down the generations in the next 30 years, a sizable number of young Brits will eventually come into serious money, thanks to asset-rich parents and grandparents.
It is advisers who could play a big role in managing this unprecedented wealth handover – but only if they plan for it.
During the latest round of Illuminate live events, I spoke to advisers across the country to help them understand what makes us millennials tick and how their businesses might help us in the future.
Thankfully, many advisers and planners of today tend to be progressive, enlightened and solution-focused. But there are still times when I'm met with a bit of pushback and wariness when I argue that there is a huge young market for advice services.
The simple truth is most millennials don’t have the needs and assets that make them viable clients, particularly post-RDR (though a minority do seem willing and able to take advice).
Nonetheless, there are many good reasons why advisers need to keep their doors open to young people.
Research from Kings Court Trust, which helps families with estate administration, highlights the risks in neglecting relationships with those younger people set to benefit from an inheritance from existing clients.
It found that a quarter of advice businesses with book values of more than £20m don’t have an active business retention strategy. A similar percentage say beneficiaries walk away because they simply don’t know the adviser or they want more control of their money. On average, they’ll take a sum of £288,000 with them.
It doesn’t have to be this way. For starters, younger advisers could play a crucial role in connecting with future beneficiaries.
Yet the Kings Court Trust research shows that 75 per cent of firms don’t have policies for hiring younger advisers.
When I spoke to firms about the reasons behind this, they cited the cost of training, the lack of available recruitment channels and the risks of losing young talent due to heightened expectations of working life.
But there were also many advisers who said a youth-friendly culture, a bit of hand-holding and having clearly defined opportunities had allowed them to bring on self-sufficient and loyal young advisers.
Colleges and universities were a particularly promising source of talent, particularly if firms established work experience programmes. Some younger advisers were even given the specific remit of attracting and looking after younger people – though many advisers emphasised their aptitude around older clients too.
It's worth considering whether existing clients could be potential 'gateways' to younger clients, and whether you can introduce the concept of family co-planning into your business if you're not doing so already.
Many advisers say they're open to this, mainly so they can minimise misunderstanding around power of attorney and care fees. That said, it's clear clients can’t be pushed into having sensitive conversations about inheritance too soon.
Take some time to think about what you’re doing online to capture those potential beneficiaries who can’t (or don’t want to) receive advice in the flesh.
I've heard about some brilliant initiatives to provide simple information for younger people online, such as dedicated online portals. There may be other easy wins too, like answering more basic questions about tax over the phone or being prepared to Skype. These all help to build trust at an early stage.
Of course, there is the question of who pays for this service. Unless it’s added to your pro-bono budget, a common solution for firms is for parents to pay an extra charge on top of their services, which many could easily afford. After all, existing clients are becoming acutely aware of their children’s financial problems, and want to do much more to help.
Young people’s needs today are very different from their parents and grandparents. We may have different trigger points for needing financial planning, such as renting with partners versus buying with spouses. And it's true that we may not be in a position to receive full-fat advice today.
But by providing more basic guidance tailored to the needs of younger people, either online or through co-planning sessions, it’s a small investment of your time today that could pay huge dividends tomorrow.
It’s not just protecting our future – it’s protecting yours too.