NEW YORK - Millennial advisors are from Mars and baby boomers are from Venus, right?
There might not be as wide a gap between these generations, say millennial advisors who find they have a lot more in common with their elders. They've got similar M.O.'s, for example.
"Gathering assets. That's always top of mind," says Merrill Lynch advisor Caitlin Sieg. "How are you going to go out and get that?"
Michael Vergari, a Janney Montgomery Scott advisor, wants to be top of mind for his older clients, from social security to Medicare.
"I want to be that advisor who clients want to go see first. I've got a couple options, but let me go see Michael first," Vergari says at SIFMA's Next Generation FA conference.
The reasons millennials join the profession also should sound familiar to older advisors. "You get complete autonomy, which was very important to me," says Emily Phillips, explaining her reason for joining Baird as an advisor two years ago.
Vergari adds flexibility to the mix.
"When I look at my schedule, if I decide to work Saturday and Sunday, it's because I've decided to do it, not because I was told to do it," he says.
Young advisors also face challenges that may be similar to what current baby boomers faced earlier in their careers. For instance, Vergari says he sometimes wishes he could add a dash of gray to his hair before meeting clients.
"They see a younger guy and they are thinking, 'What does he know?' That's a challenge I wrestle with," he says.
Phillips, who is partnered with a senior advisor, says one of her biggest obstacles has actually been the current bull market; it leaves many prospective clients too content to move assets to her practice.
"People are not as motivated to work with me as I am motivated to work with them. To get them to move assets is hard if they're not already unhappy with their current advisor," she says.
Yet despite similarities, there remains one major difference between the generations: Few millennials apparently want to join the business, and of those who do, many quit early on.
Of that group, Phillips says that some young advisors simply don't want to work hard.
"This takes a lot of patience. You have to go home at the end of the day and know that your efforts are worth it even if they don't result in immediate production," she says.
Vergari suggests young advisors worry about what they can control, not what they cant.
"I had that issue for a while," Sieg says. "I finally had a mentor finally sit me down and tell me you got to focus on what you can control. It's one of the best pieces of advice."
She adds that firms can achieve more success recruiting millennials into the profession by emphasizing the resources available to help them succeed.
"People should understand that this takes gumption and hard work. But I think you should also explain all that your firm helps provide. You have practice management consultants that will help [advisors] develop," Sieg says.
Talking about the support structure, she says, would go along way to convince more millennials to join the profession.
And it's a job that millennials should be not only well suited for, but which can actually turn into an advantage, Vergari says.
"When I'm sitting down with [clients], I make sure that I say I may be the last financial advisor you have to work with," he says. "Someone can enter their retirement and be sure that I will be around to help them."
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