#WCW: Sophia Bera on Working with Gen-Y, Building a Brand, and Using Technology

How do you think advisors can better address the needs of Gen-Y?

It’s a completely different type of financial planning. What we’ve realized is that investing is becoming more commoditized, especially with all the algorithms and robo-advisors out there. A lot of advisors used to make money by handling investments alone, but now there are a lot of people coming to them for financial planning advice. Millennials have great financial planning questions, even if they don’t have a million dollar portfolio for an advisor to manage.

We need to completely revamp how we do financial planning. It’s not just the “happy meal” version of financial planning anymore. Our financial lives have become much more complicated at a much earlier age than previous generations! Millennials are coming to the table with questions that their parents may not have had until 50 or 60 years old.

For example, people’s company benefit packages are more complicated than ever before. People are considering different types of retirements accounts, whether they should buy or lease a car, and if they should take out a student loan to go to graduate school. Simply put, there are a lot more complexities to our financial lives than there ever were before.

My clients are coming to me to help navigate through these things. I love working with young clients because I get to be on their team and be a resource when they’re going through all these changes. My clients are moving, getting engaged, starting a business, doing freelance work, having kids, rejoining the workforce, etc.

There’s a group of advisors like myself who are really passionate about helping people we can relate to--people who are working hard, saving money and paying down their debt and want to know what they should be doing in terms of financial planning. Gen-Y clients want to make their money match their values so they can have an awesome life.

What can advisors do to build their personal brand?

Advisors feel like it’s going to be a ton of work to build a brand or set themselves apart, but really you’re probably already sending out quarterly newsletters to clients, so why not take this to the next level? Why not create a monthly newsletter, and publish it online? An online newsletter is a great way for an established advisor to set themselves apart and gain new traction among potential clients while fostering relationships with current clients.

The best way to start a newsletter is to think about what you're already reading. What is going on in the economy? What have you been hearing about lately? Think about your favorite clients and ask yourself, what do those clients want to learn more about? Then ask yourself, how can I create this information for them?

For example, if it’s tax season, create a piece with tax tips! Identify the type of information you already know that your clients find helpful, and put that into your newsletter.

Your newsletter should read like: here’s a quick update about what’s going on at our firm, here are some things we’ve been reading about lately, and if you enjoy this content please forward this newsletter to a friend.

You should post your newsletter to your website, deliver it to people’s inboxes and always encourage people to share it with friends!

By delivering this type of content you establish yourself as an expert in the field. Clients will think, “wow, this person really knows a lot about the things I care about.” And prospects will think, “you know what, maybe I do have some questions about my financial planning after all.”

What role do you think financial technology plays in an advisor’s ability to successfully run their business?

I run my entire business virtually, I don’t have an office, and I’m completely paperless. I think that technology is extremely important. The fact that I could start my business from scratch completely paperless shows how quickly technology has changed. I think it’s really important to find out how implementing technology can grow and streamline your practice.

I’ve seen so many advisors hire another staff member rather than use a tech solution that could help. Some advisors don’t realize how much money they could save by systemizing things.

Technology involves learning new skills and making sure everyone is on board. This can be tough, but if you can get everyone on the same page, these changes could save you thousands of dollars a year in costs.