Personal Financial Advising: From Boomer to GenX

“Whether it’s charity or retirement planning or educational planning, it’s all about asking questions.”

Everyone needs a well-diversified portfolio, but Silicon Valley financial advisors who were on the UCSC Extension campus last week noted there are some distinct characteristics common to each generation.

“Our boomer clients are more focused on moving on,” said Lloyd Yamada, CFP®, CEO, Aspire Planning Associates. “It’s more transition-based so we’re looking more at income strategies. Tax planning is a big part of that.” Younger clients, however, are much more focused on getting out of debt, starting a family, starting a retirement savings program. “Rarely do we focus on long-term goals with them.”

Yamada and two other panelists—Ethan Pepper, CFP®, EA, a principal and financial planner with Orchard City Wealth Management in Campbell; and Eric Solve, CFP®,EA, Partner at Wade Financial Advisory—were panelists at the spring Extension Student forum, an event put on by the Personal Financial Planning certificate planning program and the Financial Planning Association-Silicon Valley. All three panelists are alumni of the Extension certificate program. The purpose of the quarterly event is to introduce financial planning students to the valuable practical experience of local finance professional while they network with peers in the industry.

Different groups have different needs at different times of their life, Solve agreed.

“Over the course of a life these clients will all experience similar needs,” Solve said. “It’s not uncommon for clients to come in with very specific needs, but then part of what we’re doing is showing them what else they’re not thinking about, what they might be thinking about next.”

For millennial clients who may want help prioritizing their goals, Pepper sets emergency reserves as the No. 1 priority.

“After that goal is satisfied, we have that conversation about should we buy a house?” he said.

The Financial Advisor Relationship

How people of different generations approach their relationship with a financial advisor is often different. The planner’s goal is to find out what clients want to use their money for and help them set investment goals.

“You have to understand what’s driving these conversations,” Solve said. “It helps make an informed decision

Panelists noted a generational difference in client expectations of the financial planner. Younger clients are often much more informed than their older counterparts and want to be more engaged in the process.

“They do the Google searches,” Yamada said. “That’s not always true with the older generation.”

Boomers, however, don’t necessarily try to understand the plan.

“It’s like, I made my money doing this,’” Solve said. “’I hired you because that’s not what I’m good at and I expect you to deliver on what I’m paying you for.”

Financial Goal Setting for the Generations

Socially responsible investing is much more a topic of conversation than it used to be, especially for the younger investor, Pepper said. But, discussions about charity are more common among the boomer generation.

“Whether it’s charity or retirement planning or educational planning, it’s all about asking questions,” Solve said.

“When I’ve sitting across from a client who’s sold their house of 60 years and has lot of money in HP because that’s where they worked all their life, it’s a very different conversation,” Solve said. “What we do face-to-face is far more important to that person than with the kid who’s texting and asking you to sign off on the research that they’ve done.”


For more information about the UCSC Extension Personal Financial Planning classes and certificate programs, please visit our website.

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