Ironstone has the privilege of working with phenomenal advisory teams across the country, and ‘Hear From Your Peers’ shines a spotlight on a specific topic and gives industry professionals a chance to weigh in with their unique perspective.
In this edition we explore Millennials and their impact on advisory firms, both as staff and clients. Sharing her thoughts on these topics is Kate Kooman Starkey of Kooman & Associates. In addition to being the daughter of firm owner Marty Kooman, her husband Jeff Starkey is also employed by the firm. These two Millennials are a key part of the staff and also represent the longterm succession plan for Kooman & Associates.
In this interview, Kate shares:
- Benefits Millennials Bring to the Workplace
- The Importance of Having a Millennial on Staff
- Thoughts on Generational Differences with Staff/Clients
Ironstone: As a Millennial, what benefits do you feel you bring to the practice?
Kate: “We feel we are able to bring a fresh perspective to the practice, as we both came from successful positions at large institutions in Washington, D.C (Kate was a health care consultant at The Advisory Board Company and her husband Jeff was a tax defense attorney at Sutherland, Asbill, & Brennan). Having experience outside the industry at firms that excel in workflow and the implementation of processes set the ground work for allowing us to lead the way with Andrea’s guidance.
I think we both have a good appreciation of how technology can be a disruptor in any industry. Unlike a lot other financial advisors, we don’t write off robo-advisors because we know how comfortable our generation is with technology, constantly wanting access to information and the ability to do things at their convenience. While we know we offer services that robo-advisors can’t, we understand some of the appealing aspects of robo-advisors even for people who have a significant amount of wealth.
Additionally, having worked alongside highly successful people and getting to know them well, we appreciate what types of services they are looking for in a financial advisor, in terms of the relationship they are seeking, what services they need and what they want to take care of on their own. After seeking to acquire a younger generation of clients for our firm, we developed a new consulting arrangement to fulfill the needs of this niche.
Instead of charging a fee for assets under management, we charge a flat yearly fee to provide a breadth of services that millennials require such as cash flow/budget analysis, insurance examination, college planning, and other services focused on their immediate needs.
We’ve found that our colleagues who live in big cities have a significant amount of income, but are juggling mortgages, private school for young children, and many other financial issues and just want clarity around how they should be allocating their money to benefit their families most. This consulting arrangement has become a successful foray for our office and a value-added service, demonstrating the need to customize our practice to the client’s needs, and more specifically, to the Millennial generation.”
Ironstone: What challenges would a firm face without a Millennial point of view on staff?
Kate: “Our generation looks at the world differently, we embrace technology and have more faith in technology because we have grown up using it and relying on it for information. I also think that the younger generation is more adaptable to change and willing to innovate, try new things. Additionally, we are trying to appeal to that next generation, specifically our clients’ children, and having younger staff who connect with those children and understand their issues is extremely important in keeping a family’s legacy assets at the firm.”
Ironstone: What are your thoughts on generational differences, both for interaction between staff and interaction with clients?
Kate: “We are very aware of the fact that we are significantly younger than our average client. We are working closely with Marty and Barbara to seamlessly incorporate our strengths into client interactions and the broader succession plan. It’s essential to build long-lasting relationships with clients and our staff. Just like our clients are planning for their future, so is our firm. We’re dedicated to thinking about what lies ahead for our clients and creating a sense of continuity and stability in the transition of the firm to the next generation.
Having experience working with all generations at our previous firms, we know what people want to see (in terms of presentation) and how they receive information is different. We try to identify early on in a client relationship (and with our team members) their specific preferences on communication style so we can customize how we present to and interact with them.”
Kate’s parents, Marty & Barbara Kooman, share their insights on generational differences in the workplace with Millennials on staff and as clients.
Ironstone: What are your thoughts on generational differences, both for staff and clients?
Marty: “Having Andrea and Ironstone in year two of our Millennial transition was one of the smartest things we’ve done, giving us a clear path on which to move forward. This approach recognized the value of the past, yet embraced the necessary changes to be ready for more dynamic change in the future. It helped us with communication between the old guard and the new guard. Ironstone helped our management team come together on important issues facing our combined future and speak with one voice.
As for clients, 40% are over 70 and in distribution. The Millennials have helped develop better financial planning, investment and service alternatives for younger clients. Investments more robo-like with a well-qualified and empathetic advisor attached. They’ve also developed a fee-for-service consulting model (i.e. Cash Flow Consulting) which we’ve now successfully rolled out to a dozen clients. We always wanted to move toward consulting. The Millennials have developed this profitable approach and they’re perfecting this new client offering as we grow.”
Barbara: “I don’t’ think clients care about the age of the person serving them, as long as the staff member can demonstrate that they truly care about the client, respond to client requests and needs, and exhibit a high level of expertise. Clients have high expectations, and our team is uniquely prepared to meet whatever a client needs. I love that our firm has a mix of advisors, some with years of experience and expertise, and others with great enthusiasm to learn and serve. Clients respect that our team has earned the right to serve them thru training, education, and certifications.
We’re an office that has made a commitment to incorporate technology into our client service process…and I think the Millennials appreciate that commitment to keeping current. Our commitment to serve the best interest of each client supersedes the issues of age or expertise. It is the unifying force that drives our success. We can all learn from each other, in many cases, the best way to handle client issues, staff interactions, and how to make technology work for us.”
“Having Andrea and Ironstone in year two of our Millennial transition was one of the smartest things we’ve done, giving us a clear path on which to move forward. This approach recognized the value of the past, yet embraced the necessary changes to be ready for more dynamic change in the future.”
– Marty Kooman, President – Kooman & Associates
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