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Talking to Your Generation: Do You Need a Financial Plan?

Are you ever too old or too young for a financial plan? Or ask yourself, “Do I need one?” Our financial consultants discuss getting financial help at any age.

09/20/2023

Key Takeaways

Many people would like to discuss finances with a professional, but don’t.

Others may think they are too young or too old for a financial plan.

Find out why our financial consultants say financial planning is for all ages.

Financial needs are specific to each person and will grow and change as you age. What about right now? Do you need a financial plan? Financial Consultants Jonathan Belay, Ryan Heidenreich, Rachel McLain and Don Thomas discuss financial planning and what you may need based on your generation.

What’s My Generation?

Baby Boomer – Born 1946 to 1964

Generation X – Born 1965 to 1980

Millennials – Born 1981 to 1996

Generation Z – Born 1996 to 2012

Which Generation Prioritizes Financial Planning Help Now?

While our clients seeking financial advice tend to be baby boomers and Gen Xers, a recent survey shows that 74% of Americans of all generations say there are financial topics they’d like to discuss with a professional.1

Gen Zers and millennials indicate they most likely need advice, but are they asking for it? Not so much, with only around 30% of those generations seeking it out. However, if your parents work with a financial professional, you may be more likely to do so, say our consultants.

“Many of our advice clients are 60 and older,” says Ryan. “But we do get some of their children as clients, too. Seeing their parents committed to investing and knowing I have a relationship with them makes building that trust easier.”

A family connection may also be a good way to get started, as many millennials say they haven’t sought financial advice because they don’t know how to find an advisor that suits them.2

Does Every Age Need a Financial Plan?

Yes. But it will look different based on your generation. For older Gen Xers and baby boomers, your plan will focus on retirement—accumulating as much as you can, planning for the retirement income you need and how you will manage your finances and investments in retirement.

Financial planning will be about specific topics for those getting ready to transition to retirement. “Those include when you will claim your Social Security benefits and your drawdown strategy, among others,” says Rachel.

For younger Gen Xers and older millennials, the key to financial planning will be building up your savings as much as possible as you juggle life’s priorities.

“I tell clients in the mid-stage of life to maximize workplace retirement plans,” says Don. “And it’s important that they know how to invest properly for the long term. They are bombarded by information that tells them to invest in a certain way when they really may need a solution that more specifically suits them. Having a financial plan can help you do that.”

Ryan agrees, “I was in the same boat when I was that age. Everything seems so short term. Thinking longer term goes to the back burner when your immediate needs require attention.”

If you have a workplace retirement plan, our consultants agree it’s a benefit you should take advantage of no matter how old you are. And when you change jobs, which most people will do five to seven times during their career, it’s important to know how to manage that money because you’ll need somewhere to help you continue saving. Figuring out where helps set the stage for future money.

When Do Most People Think About Financial Planning?

Traditionally, people think about using a financial advisor when they are getting ready to retire.2 But starting earlier can have long-term benefits.

“People in their 30s and 40s are often interested if they are on track for retirement,” says Jonathan. “We’ll talk about where they want to be, and at that age, we can discuss options that come with having the luxury of time.”

Changes in family dynamics can also prompt someone to seek advice. “People start getting more serious about their finances when they have children,” says Ryan. “They start thinking about saving for college and considering what the future will look like.”

On the flipside, Rachel says, “I also see people start getting serious about finances when their kids leave for college. They may even worry that they focused too much on the kids and not enough on themselves.”

Where Are People Seeking Financial Help?

Just because younger generations aren’t calling an advisor, it doesn’t mean they are not seeking financial advice. One survey says that 79% of millennials and Gen Zers have gotten financial advice from social media, which may have good points and drawbacks.

“Younger people are busy, plus social media is a big part of their lives,” says Jonathan. “Social media may make it easier to hear financial advice, and it helps break down taboos about talking about money.”

Our consultants caution about advice that promotes day trading and market timing or if you’re not hearing it from a reputable source. “Long-term investing may not be the ‘exciting’ side of investing. But as a financial consultant, I’m here for the long haul and not the next hot thing that may or may not make you rich,” says Rachel.

Don agrees, “I can’t give you the thrill, but I can help with want you want long term. Financial planning isn’t just about the plan itself. It’s about planning what you want to do in life.”

Starting to save and invest early can be one of the most significant things an investor can do. But how do you convince someone of it? “That’s when it’s helpful to have clients of all ages,” says Rachel. “I hear my older clients expressing regrets about not saving more. I sometimes use those scenarios from older clients with younger clients to hit the ideas home.”

Talking to the Generations: What Should Financial Planning Focus On?

What could you expect to hear from our financial consultants at your age? Here’s what our consultants believe need to be at the top of the list for each generation. Of course, where you are on your financial journey may also be a factor and may cross generations.

Gen Z

Money is a tool to help you get what you want in the future. So rather than just talking about your money, let’s talk about your plans and how we can make it happen—and why you should start now.

Millennials

Sure, you’re a long way from retirement, but creating a plan now will help you make important decisions 10, 20 and 30 years later. Getting financial planning now can help influence your future.

Gen X

Let’s talk about where you are with retirement savings now. That may include conversations around saving more, and we’d answer that question that concerns everyone: Is it too late for me?

Boomers

We may have the most to discuss about your transition to retirement, including your expenses and retirement timing. It’s about the important details that can help you enjoy the years after working.

Financial Planning Is for All Generations

Gen Z, Gen X, millennial or boomer? Our consultants want you to rethink what it means to get financial help. They understand that planning can seem tedious. But it may also be the foundation to set you up for future financial success.

Contributors

Financial Consultant Jonathan Belay
Jonathan Belay

Financial Consultant

Financial Consultant Ryan Heidenreich, CFP®
Ryan Heidenreich, CFP®

Financial Consultant

Financial Consultant Rachel McLain, CFP®
Rachel McLain, CFP®

Financial Consultant

Financial Consultant Donald Thomas, ChFC®
Donald Thomas, ChFC®

Financial Consultant

Ready to Talk About Financial Needs at Your Age?

We’re ready to talk to you.

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1

Over 80% of Gen Zers and Millennials Seek Financial Advice, 401kspecialistmag.com, June 2023.

2

Financial planning isn’t just for soon-to-be retirees—here’s when you should think about hiring one, cnbc.com, June 2023.

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The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.