She started a millennial virtual financial planning company before she was coo
It takes courage to be a pioneer. Youth also helps. Here is a financial planner who has proven this point.
At 29, Sophia Bera became one of the first planners in the industry to focus on young clients and charge them a monthly retainer.
âOther planners thought I was crazy to start a business by working with millennials,â because âthey had no money,â colleagues sniffed in 2013. But Bera wouldn’t listen: she had learned that Millennials needed money advice and were willing to pay for it.
Eight years ago, the Certified Financial Planner opened Gen Y Planning with no clients or assets to manage. Today, it has some 105 clients across the country and is on track to generate around $ 400,000 this year.
In an interview with ThinkAdvisor, she explains how doing it her own way has led to success and, safely, a good number of imitators.
âWhat has been helpful to me is creating my own ecosystem and having control,â says Bera, 37, of her practice, which was virtual from the start and operates from her home in Austin, ON. Texas.
A member of the CNBC Financial Advisors Council, she has been honored as Top Young Advisor by industry publications and was named one of Investopedia’s Top 10 Financial Advisors.
The Minneapolis native and her all-female team of three work exclusively with young professionals eager for advice on spending, savings and investing.
His approach helps Millennials under 40 and some Gen Xers in their 40s learn to use the money they have to “match their values ââso they can have a good life,” says Bera, author of “What You Should I Learned About Money, But I Never Did” (2015).
Millennial planning was born not only because Bera spotted an underserved market, but also because of her deep dissatisfaction as an employee of two financial companies: She felt blocked by the opportunities to evolve into a full-fledged AF, mainly because she was a woman.
So here’s where the courage came in: “I really didn’t want to help a bunch of old, white, wealthy people get rich,” she says, half-joking. It was then that she started her own business.
Bera entered the industry in 2007 at Berger Financial Group, then joined Cahill Financial Advisors, both in Minnesota. Next: After working remotely for New York-based LearnVest, she opened Gen Y Planning in 2013.
In the interview, the FA talks about what it sees as a âhuge needâ for women financial advisers and, more broadly, for greater diversity and inclusion of advisers across the industry.
Citing few women in mind, she argues that “when women are in power, they can empower more women.”
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Bera, who was on the phone from Austin. With an ever-growing stack of prospects, she had to create a summer waitlist.
âI’m sort of at full capacity right now. I have too many leads. That, âshe enthuses,â is a good problem to have!
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: What prompted you to start your own business?
SOPHIA BERA: I kept hearing great questions from my peers about what to do with their money. But at the time, nothing was aimed at young customers, my generation.
Many companies had a minimum of $ 500,000 or $ 1 million. No advisor was working on a monthly fee model. I didn’t know where to send my peers.
So you have decided to start a practice to reach this clientele?
Yes. I thought I would try to create a virtual business geared towards younger people. I wanted it to be virtual so I could travel more and live where I wanted. I would charge a planning fee followed by a monthly retainer.
When you shared your idea with your colleagues, what was their reaction?
Other planners thought I was crazy to start a business with millennials. They said, âWhy would you want to do that? They do not have money.
But for me it was: they have good questions, and they are willing to pay for advice. So why don’t we help them?
I thought that because things like paying off debt and preparing for retirement were important to me, they were important to my peers too. So why don’t we talk to young people about their money?
I started with zero clients and zero assets. Now I have about 105 clients across the country.
Today there are a number of financial planners who use your type of business model. What is your main differentiator in the market?
I have a lot of experience: I have spoken with probably over a thousand young people on the phone or on Zoom to help them with their money.
I have really been able to understand how I can produce a lot of value for my clients in a short time.
What do you think about the fact that more women are becoming financial advisers?
There is a huge need – there is a huge need for diversity [overall] in the trade. We need a lot more Black, Latino and Asian CFPs.