Helping Millennials Match Their Money with Their Values

A conversation between Sophia Bera Daigle and the Betterment for Advisors team about building a goals-driven practice for millennial clients.

Advisor Spotlight: Sophia Bera Daigle

A conversation between Sophia Bera Daigle and the Betterment for Advisors team about building a goals-driven practice for millennial clients.

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Advisor: Sophia Bera Daigle, CFP®

After working in traditional financial planning firms since 2007, I quit my job at a NY start-up to launch my own firm, Gen Y Planning. I now live in Austin, Texas with my husband, Bryan, and our son, Theo, who was born in the fall of 2020. After spending several months living abroad in 2019, we’re excited to share our love of travel with Theo!

Firm: Gen Y Planning

Gen Y Planning brings financial planning to millennials. We now work with a variety of clients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are in the middle of making huge life decisions: navigating a new job, buying a home, merging finances, starting a family, relocating, and pursuing advanced degrees. The Gen Y Planning team believes that the earlier you work with a CFP®, the faster you can build a secure financial foundation for the future.

Why did you decide to become a financial advisor?

I like to help people use their money to match their values. My clients range from creatives to small business owners to Silicon Valley employees. Whether you plan to retire early, take a sabbatical, or build a career you love, I’m excited to help!

What is the least understood aspect of your job?

I would have to say the least understood aspect of my job is that financial planning does not just mean managing investments. I offer comprehensive financial planning, which includes all areas of your financial life: paying down debt, protecting assets that have been accumulated, purchasing a home, refinancing a mortgage, reviewing job offers and company benefit packages, reviewing tax returns, and proactively tax planning.

My approach is goal-driven with my clients in the driver's seat. I work with clients to co-create their recommendations so that they’re more likely to implement the recommendations. Then my team and I act as their accountability partners to see that they are following through on the recommendations so that they can reach their goals.

Why did you choose to partner with Betterment for Advisors?

I like that Betterment offers robo-advising, which includes automatic rebalancing, at a low, flat platform fee, and doesn’t charge more for trades. In addition, Betterment has a simple, user-friendly interface that makes it easy for clients to navigate.

Betterment also has great features like effortless Roth conversions and tax-loss harvesting. Something small that I love is the ability to set up an automatic investment weekly instead of monthly. It’s a great way to dollar cost average into the market while also smoothing out cash flow.

How have you set up your firm's tech stack? And how has leveraging automation impacted your practice?

We utilize a handful of low cost tech tools (Trello, Dropbox, Zoom, TextExpander, Gmail, etc.). We have found that our philosophy of “simple over sexy” has a greater impact on our clients than fancy software with charts and graphs.

We don’t pay for expensive financial planning softwares that produce twenty-page reports our clients will never look at. The benefit for us and our clients just isn’t there. We like using Trello to track our clients’ financial goals and life changes and to take notes. We have a board for each client so we can easily prepare for our client meetings. We have a Google form we send to clients before their check in meeting and they update their net worth in Excel. We send them a one-page meeting recap after their meeting in a PowerPoint that we print to PDF. It’s efficient, simple, and the action items that came from the meeting are clear.

Can you walk us through what the onboarding experience might look like for a new client at your firm – from when they land on your website to your team actually opening and transferring their assets – and how Betterment may fit into the onboarding workflow?

An interested potential client starts by scheduling a 30-minute introductory meeting. They would fill out an intake form prior to our meeting. During the meeting we learn more about them, dive into the services we provide, and end with a quote for our services given their financial situation. After, if they decide they want to become a client, they sign a contract, pay their upfront client fee, and schedule their first client meeting. Prior to this meeting they are given a list of documents to gather and upload to a Dropbox folder for us to review.

What is one critical lesson you have learned from your clients?

My values and priorities are not necessarily the same as my clients. I need to keep this in mind when a client is making a decision that might not be the best financial decision, but may be a really important life decision that deeply affects other areas of their life. In that case, I want to help them figure out the best way to financially navigate through that choice so that they can continue to reach their goals.

How has a remote or hybrid work environment changed your relationship with clients and prospects?

I have always run my business remotely, which has a plethora of benefits for clients, the business, and my employees. Clients can meet in the comfort of their home or office and don’t need to worry about commuting to our meeting. It also allows me to work with people across the country and travel myself. It opens my workforce options up to the whole country as well since I don’t require my employees to be in one location and come into an office.

I can’t imagine having in-person client meetings again. Now, when I get to see my clients in person, it’s only social! It’s way more fun that way!

What do you think is the biggest opportunity for advisors today?

I think the biggest opportunity for advisors is in working with the millionaires of tomorrow—young professionals who are making good money but maybe haven’t accumulated much wealth yet.

They still need planning in many areas of their lives: paying down student loans, purchasing their first home, negotiating job offers, navigating company benefits and company stock options, starting a family, and saving for retirement.

If you could only give one piece of financial advice, what would it be?

Don’t wait to start. Small steps have a dramatic impact on your overall financial situation. You don’t want to be shoulders deep in a complex financial situation before you seek help. Find a planner who will be your financial partner to navigate finances with you so you can reach your goals and achieve your dreams.

Sophia Bera Daigle, CFP®, is the founder of Gen Y Planning. Discover more Advisor Spotlights from Betterment for Advisors here