A millennial with a six-figure income and a fair-size portfolio is looking for an investment adviser. It’s not going well.
“I have been looking for an investment adviser for the past six to eight months to help me become a more sophisticated investor and help steer our disposable and investable income in the right direction over the long term,” this 37-year-old reader told me recently in an e-mail. “Nobody has shown the initiative, time or interest to take me up on it, including the big banks’ advisers and some more boutique shops.”
This fellow and his wife both have incomes in six figures, and his portfolio is worth about $200,000. He describes his occupation as a professional and, if you judge by the fact that he and his wife have no major household debt beyond a mortgage, he’s a good manager of money. He figures he and his wife have “a solid trajectory for financial growth given our increasing career earnings and path.”
This reader wants an investment adviser, not a mutual-fund salesperson. He has spoken to two advisers at one particular bank-owned investment dealer and one adviser at another bank-owned firm. He also tried to get his “insurance guy” – he does more than insurance – to take him on as a client. He’s now thinking that his choices are either a robo-adviser or seeing whether his dad’s adviser will take him on as a favour.
There’s another way with a lot to recommend it – use a robo-adviser for investments and hire a fee-for-service financial planner to provide big-picture guidance on saving, investing, taxes and estate-planning. The planner would be paid a flat or hourly fee and would not sell investments – the robo would look after that for a reasonable cost.
But this reader seems keen on finding someone to handle both investments and planning. He finds the lack of interest from advisers baffling. “Why is it so difficult to find someone who is willing to take on a client with big upside potential in investable assets and who could be the easiest client they have?”
Here’s why: investment advisers are increasingly often paid through fees set as a percentage of a client’s assets. Big accounts are needed to generate the fee revenue that big investment firms demand from their advisers, which excludes even successful millennials on the rise.
There are undoubtedly advisers out there who would happily take this client on. But how is he supposed to find them? Call firms one by one? Send out an SOS on social media? The advisory business needs to consider this problem because its baby-boomer client base won’t last forever.
Millennials and Gen Z will be needed at some point to replenish the client base – the same people who today are hearing a message that the advisory business hates them.
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