In our latest Spotlight piece, we speak to Megan Rimmer, a paraplanner at Fairstone Financial, about what the industry could do to better engage with millennials and how how she’s doing this through her personal blog.
What is the thinking behind your blog? What inspired you to set it up?
Let’s face it, social media is a prominent part of our everyday lives and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities it creates. There are two elements to the blog: supplying knowledge about finance to the everyday person (what I call ‘financial facts’) and providing an insight into my journey to becoming a financial planner and what the exams entail. The main aims are to educate people, promote the advantages and importance of financial advice, and to encourage younger individuals to join the industry.
How does it complement the work you do as a paraplanner?
Writing the blog allows me to share my experiences and knowledge with others. It allows me to log my progress with becoming chartered which creates a sense of accountability and encourages me to keep going (even when I’m two months into exam revision and losing the will to live!). It also encourages me to learn more, whether it be through the research I do or the books I read so that I can review them.
Do you think millennials approach personal finances differently to other groups? Is the industry doing enough to cater to these differences?
I think most young individuals fail to think long-term. I don’t necessarily think this is because they’re irresponsible, rather they don’t know what to do or they don’t know the best ways to save. As repeatedly reported in the press, many young individuals want to buy their first home but not every young individual will be aware of the government help available, such as Help to Buy ISAs and Lifetime ISAs. Therefore, I’ve focused on explaining such things in my blog – to explain ‘financial facts’ to individuals in layman’s terms.
Another prominent topic is that of robo advice – something that could seem very attractive to ‘tech savvy’ young individuals. As I said above, social media is a part of our everyday lives and this has led to some companies trying to incorporate this into the advice process and, essentially, ‘cutting out’ the personalised nature of financial advice. I think it’s important to encourage young individuals to see a real person, not simply log into an app, answer a few questions and expect personalised advice. What brought me to this industry was the face-to-face contact with clients. As a financial adviser, it’s about building a long-term relationship with your client. The aim is for every client to be a client for life and I don’t believe this level of trust and this level of relationship can be gained from robo advice. So, whilst robo advice may seem attractive to young individuals, I think it’s important to encourage them to seek financial advice from a real person.
I think the industry is doing more to ‘get the word out’ and promote the advantages of financial advice. There are plenty of blogs out there and the Gov UK website is also informative. I want to be part of that movement and use my own experiences to engage young individuals.
To what extent is a lack of financial education affecting millennials?
Oscar Wilde said, “you can never be overdressed or overeducated” – a motto I like to live by. As with anything, if you don’t have the knowledge, you should seek it or seek someone who already has it. I think it’s more about making individuals aware when they’re younger, so they can make long term financial plans throughout their life to meet their goals.
How well do you think millennials are coping when it comes to budgeting and personal finance?
It depends on what they’re saving for. I’ve found individuals saving for a house tend to be very good. Likewise, if saving for a holiday to Ibiza, most people will budget and save because they see the short-term gain in sight. It’s telling a young person that they should put X amount away every month to a pension and they can’t touch it until they’re 55 (possibly higher when they come to take it) that’s difficult.
I’m a big advocate of making a life plan and it’s about managing your finances to fit around such plans and goals but I think it’s crucial to think long-term. I hear so many of my peers saying, “I’m here for a good time not a long time” which is all well and good, but it isn’t statistically true! In 2014 to 2016, the life expectancy in the UK was 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females. Not what I would call a short time.