NextGen Strategy: Simplify.

Headshot of Sean Meighan

Sean Meighan, Head of Advisory Services

October 16, 2023

As financial professionals continue to prepare to help NextGen clients manage wealth they may inherit from baby boomers, it’s important to understand that they may need guidance for more than retirement planning or paying for a child’s education. It seems millennials crave a better understanding of personal finance best practices.

According to a recent Experian study, nearly 70% of millennials are anxious about their financial prospects. While Americans born between 1981 and 1996 should be in their prime earning years, many lag behind the financial accomplishments of generations before them because of several factors:

  • The Great Recession of 2008. The oldest millennials were just entering the workforce when the U.S. GDP fell 4.3%, resulting in job loss and depleting savings accounts.
  • Wage gaps. The average millennial in 2016 earned 20% less than baby boomers at the same stage of life1.
  • Student debt. 79% of millennials said student debt is a problem. The average student loan balance for millennials aged 35 to 49 was $43,0002.
  • Rising costs. With high-interest rates, millennials face paying more for a home (taking on more debt) or continuing to rent (no equity).
  • Becoming caregivers. As parents age, millennials are often looked to provide or augment care. These responsibilities can sometimes translate into taking more flexible jobs to provide care and forgoing career opportunities that may boost their earning — and saving — power.


With such distractions and challenges, it is understandable when we learn that NextGen clients crave a better understanding of personal finance basics. Financial professionals are already aware of the Cerulli report that stated 70% of heirs are likely to fire or change financial professionals after inheriting money from a parent3, so you must strike the right balance in tone to win or retain NextGen clients. This transfer of wealth is a great opportunity for financial professionals and wealth management programs, but you will be well served to study an heir’s unique financial circumstances and tailor a strategy and conversation for that circumstance. You can’t always assume they fully understand terms you’re used to using.

Teachable Moments

Here are several strategies to help you engage NextGen clients with personalized guidance:

  • Keep it simple. Some clients may not understand the difference between a 401(k) or an IRA. When you talk with them about their financial picture, be intentional about inviting questions and discussion.
  • Be prepared to talk budgeting. As some millennials are struggling with short-term goals, adapt your strategy to help them build emergency funds and future goals.
  • Discuss risk tolerance. With all the financial obstacles they have faced in their lifetimes, millennials may need a primer in risk — and a patient advisor who can walk them through multiple scenarios.
  • Prepare strategies for short-term and long-term goals. Much like the budget conversation above, you may need to expand your strategy to help millennials pay down debt and help with expenses for aging parents and children while setting aside money for retirement.
  • Share your secrets. If you have a favorite financial podcast, book or website that you find helpful, share it with your clients and encourage them to seek similar insights to grow their financial literacy.


Finally, be patient. While some NextGen clients stand to inherit windfalls that may mitigate some of their financial angst, 75% of this group says they would feel more optimistic if they had a better understanding of personal finance basics4. So even though they may inherit money, your clients will still need more help, giving you the opportunity to strengthen that relationship and be the one they turn to for questions with every financial milestone.

Let Atria help you keep it simple. Reach out to


1 New York Times
2 Bankrate
3 Cerulli
4 Experian