In our latest Spotlight feature, we speak to Ross Jefferies, financial adviser at Tunbridge Wells-based firm Panoramic Wealth Management, about a millennials-only networking event he is organising to help engage the next generation of clients.
You’re running a networking event for millennials this week. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
As a company, we’ve done various events such as golf days or even Subbuteo tournaments. But we felt the time was right for Rob Horsfall-Turner, who joined us in February, and myself to start creating a legacy for ourselves.
So we’re running an evening networking event, solely for millennials. Two friends of ours — Ruaridh McConnochie and Will Edwards — are in the England 7s squad and have agreed to come along as our guest speakers to give attendees an insight into their lives as professional athletes. They’ve also very kindly provided us with an England shirt signed by the squad which we’ll be giving to one lucky winner who completes our feedback form.
The response has been great – so far, we’ve had just over 70 saying they want to come along. The event is free, as is everyone’s first drink. They will even be able to use a customised snapchat filter which I designed that features Rob and I in “bitmoji” form!
Can you tell us a bit more about Panoramic Wealth Management?
Panoramic was set up by my father, Gary Jefferies, and I joined the business straight from school in 2014. We were an appointed representative firm when I joined, before going directly authorised in November 2015. Since then, we have relocated back to Tunbridge Wells and have grown with the introduction of Duncan Fry as the chairman of our Investment Committee as well as Rob Horsfall-Turner.
Gary is the independent financial adviser whilst Rob and I continue becoming qualified, but I am now a qualified mortgage adviser.
Why do you think it’s important to reach out to millennials?
Naturally, it makes more sense for me to be advising those nearer to my own age if I can. It is much more conceivable for me to be able to empathise with someone aged 35 than if they were 70 – I’m not saying it would be impossible by any stretch, just that it’s easier to understand their needs.
The topic of younger advisers entering the profession is currently quite a big one and although there are more younger advisers now than when I started, the average adviser is still around 55 years old.
Have you had any success to date in engaging with millennials? How have you done this?
This event is the first shot at really engaging with millennials and we are planning to run similar events every six months or so to remind everyone of what we are doing. Once the event has passed, the plan is to put all photos and the video we are getting taken on all of our social media platforms to showcase the evening. A journalist from a local newspaper is attending so we also hope we can extend our local profile even further.
How well served do you think millennials are by the financial services sector?
The situation is improving for certain and the recent PFS Festival was testament to that, but there is still a way to go. One thing that does stick in my mind was an Aviva document called “Face the Future – Intergenerational financial planning, millennials and the advice gap”, that had eight contributors but no more than two were millennials. I’m not saying that it is terrible, but in my mind, it would have been more beneficial to have a couple more in the Generation Y bracket!
What do you see as the main barriers for millennials seeking financial advice?
Having spoken to friends of mine, I believe the main barrier stopping millennials seeking advice is a lack of awareness about the profession. I’ve been at seminars and conferences where a speaker has been saying how most younger people know exactly what financial advice is and I’ve disagreed so much that I’ve got on the microphone to challenge them. When I say I work in financial services, most millennials automatically jump to the conclusion that I am an accountant and that that accountants cover all aspects of advice. This, I suppose, is why we are being proactive by running the upcoming event and allowing them to grasp the idea of financial advice.
Another exciting point is that two friends and I are about to start doing our own podcast in which I’m hoping to be able to gently spread the message and all the possibilities with advice.
Do you think robo-advice has a future as a way of reaching millennials?
A year ago, I would have said definitely, but now I am on the fence. The idea of robo-advice is great and would be a fantastic way of getting younger people investing, but then I read about Nutmeg, the largest robo-advice provider, which has made enormous losses. If the companies cannot remain profitable, they will disappear or just stop providing the service. The reason why robo-advice is so accessible is because it is cheap, but the other side of that is that providers need vast numbers to make a profit.
What are the main issues facing millennials as far as financial services are concerned? What would you propose as solutions?
High levels of student debt have to be up there. But having said that, loans currently don’t have to be paid off until the individual earns over £21,000 per annum.
Property prices, especially in London and the south east, are high and will be difficult for would-be first time buyers to afford. There are certain products out there that can help, such as the Buy Together mortgage by Vida Home Loans, that can be used by up to four applicants. Possibly, the bigger problem here is that rent levels are too high and in lots of cases, higher than mortgage payments would be. This makes it nigh on impossible to be able to save up for a house deposit while renting.
I do think that the best solution for most millennials in terms of financial services as a whole is starting with education about what the benefits of getting financial advice are. That is a responsibility that younger advisers may see themselves taking on in the shorter term.