Confluence Financial Partners — The Importance of Communicating with the Next Generation | Episode 2
Greg: 92% of millennials believe business success should be measured by more than just profit. Imagine that.
Greg: Today we have an interesting podcast, at least from my perspective because we get to look in inside the mind of millennials and if you believe like we do, that part of happiness is really believing your future is going to be greater than your past. This gives us the opportunity to dig into the minds of the future.
With that thought in mind, I’d like to introduce to four of our associates that we have with us today and they happen to be four of our millennials.
Randy Holcombe, who’s been with us five years and we found Randy at Grove City College. We loved the institution. Thought we’d go up there and see if we if there’s any, if there’s any students that we would be interested in in obtaining. And we found Randy and it’s been a good choice. Randy’s been one of the MVPs here. In fact, you’ve been with us five years and have done almost everything and continue to be the — what’s it called in baseball? Dude comes in to— It’s the uh, it’s the uh—
Greg: It’s the utility infielder. Thank you.
And that takes us to our second associate. We have it with us today, Chuck Ziants and Chuck has been with us now for over two years and he comes from Bethany College. I’ll tell you what we liked about Chuck. He was working with the Pittsburgh Pirates in luxury ticket sales and we were his client and we absolutely loved the service he gave us and how he was always an advocate for us. And so, we talked to Chuck about joining us and he did that over two years ago and as a financial advisor and is working with clients and has made us better and has helped us on a, on a whole host of fronts.
Greg: Our third associate is new and his name is Gregory Weimer.
So yes, it is a Gregory Weimer. It’s my son and Gregory went to Virginia Tech and then he got his master’s in accounting at Pitt. And then he spent five years at one of the big four and is a CPA. And so, Gregory’s bringing a different set of expertise. It’s a different expertise to us and we’re looking forward to having, I assume you’re going to be around for awhile. So we look forward to the next generation.
And then, Katie Montagazzi, she came to us from a local bank and she was introduced to us from a mutual friend and he actually said, “I think she’d be great for the organization.” And I thought, “Wow, I’ll see about that.” So, we went and visited with Katie and her interest and passion for the business captured us. In fact, she was learning and studying for her CFP prior to even joining Confluence. So, this is just a small segment of the people that we have designed to take us to the next generation.
So, I’m just curious, millennials, here we go. What stereotype makes you crazy when people say, the millennials do blank or the millennials are blank?
Randy: Okay. I would say that millennials are lazy. I mean, I think that’s pretty general of all millennials that people think that, and I don’t know that it’s necessarily true. I think in any generation you could probably just find hard workers and some lazy people. And I think just depends on what they’re motivated by, maybe what their ultimate goals are. But I don’t know that they’re necessarily lazy.
Katie: So, for me something I hear often is that millennials are obsessed with technology and do everything online. But I disagree. I think face-to-face interactions are really important to millennials. Especially, I can speak for us for in the room, definitely not obsessed with technology here. I use it, learn it to be efficient and all of that, but I definitely need face-to-face interaction.
Greg: So, it’s interesting, right? So as far as “millennials are lazy,” if I were you, that would make me crazy. And in our organization, you guys sort of set the standard. It’s not unusual that all four of you have texted on a Saturday and Sunday and prior to seven o’clock in the morning. So, if I were you that I — I find that to be absolutely inaccurate. I’m sure there are lazy millennials, there are also lazy baby boomers. I totally agree. And Katie, I agree, you tend to be someone that is a face-to-face person as our organization is focused on.
However, one of the things I have to tell you that I think is interesting about millennials, when they say, “I’ve talked to someone,” that doesn’t mean they necessarily talked to them. Right? As you’re all shaking your head, like you’ll say to me, I talked to blank client and I’ll be like, “Did we talk or does that also mean an email or a text?” Which is sort of interesting.
Now let me, let me ask this. What do you think millennials bring to the table?
Chuck: A new perspective, new energy and a difference of opinion. I would say when it comes to millennials, we don’t lack our opinions, as everyone smiles in the room. I do think in our ability to work collaboratively, you know, working in a team is huge.
Randy: And I think millennials have a, almost a need to challenge or question the status quo, which, to Chuck’s point, I think can be a really good thing and help us to look at things differently, innovate. I know some baby boomers probably roll their eyes because sometimes millennials… see if we can do it better, it can be a real asset.
Greg: No, I have to tell you from our perspective that’s been wonderful because we want to have a diverse group of people from sex, ethnicity and opinion. And it really does challenge us. And if anybody has — and please don’t take this the wrong way — but if anybody has dogs,
the way you keep an older dog young is you buy him a puppy. Pretty soon — right? They tend to be happier and they challenge each other.
So, I’m curious what, what would you say millennials can learn from the older generations?
Gregory: I think communication skills is important. I mean, back to the technology versus face-to-face and some people, you know, being more comfortable with that. Just the way millennials grew up, they didn’t have to be as face-to-face, even making a phone call because of texts and emails. So I think just learning how older generations communicate and speaking to people I think is very important. Not that millennials don’t do that. They also had the benefit of text and quicker communications that they didn’t have to do the face-to-face.
Greg: As a father, and now a grandfather, one of the things I learned is if you want to communicate with a millennial and get a quick response, text them! Send them a text. So, you know, it goes both ways. We’ve also learned that the way you communicate is through podcasts and texting, not just through face to face. Both are important.
Katie: So something I think we can learn from the older generations will be patience. I think in the age we’re in, of abundance of information and technology and everything’s at your fingertips, literally being patient, whether it’s communicating with somebody, results from something, patience in yourself,if you’re working towards a goal. That’s definitely something I need to learn over time.
Randy: I think a big one is the first step is recognizing that there is a lot to learn from the older generation. And so, I think millennials benefit from listening more. I think we want to talk a lot, which is great, but I think it’s important to listen and recognize that those who are older than us have a lot of wisdom, and often, a lot that we could learn from.
Greg: One of the things as I, as I look at the four of you, that I think distinguishes you is your passion to improve. What are some of the things that you do to improve your skillset?
Katie: So, we’re sitting here making a podcast. I think everybody in the room listens to podcasts probably every day. We share podcasts and whether it’s like a crime podcast or something about personal development, that’s definitely one way. Second, we work in a team. So, I think we actually learn a lot from each other and we grow that way.
Gregory: I would agree with that. I mean, I can think of at least three times in the past three days, over the weekend that this group of the five of us shared a podcast for the others to listen to and everybody pretty much listened to it right away, which was pretty cool to see and helps you get a different set of podcasts that you may not find on your own.
Chuck: I would think too, what’s pretty uniform about everyone’s answers here is that the type of how we’re taking in information, right? It’s a world of convenience.
So, podcasts, you can listen to them at your convenience no matter where you’re at. I personally like audio books, so I’ll listen to podcast audio books in the car while I’m driving to and from the gym or to and from the office. It makes it a lot easier for me to digest information.
Greg: Humans are happiest when they’re growing and improving. And so, the fact that we are all sharing information throughout the weekend, I find that enjoyable. I find it interesting. I think that is something that distinguishes the relationships we have in our firm. In that we’re always challenging each other.
To your point, Randy, we’re always challenging each other to think differently and to improve. And, and Katie, to your point on teams, it’s not unusual in our firm where we have working on the same issue, someone in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in the room at the same time thinking about an issue. And I can tell you as someone in their 50s, that’s been extraordinarily beneficial to not only rely on other people’s experience, but also to your point, Randy, rely on some folks, new perspectives on the industry.
So, a lot of the folks listening to this have children or grandchildren that are millennials. What would your advice be to them on how they should talk to those millennials about money, finance and wealth?
Randy: I know this is how this generation was, was raised, but I think a lot of money issues for older generations are pretty taboo. Not something maybe they’ve talked about with kids, grandkids, but I really think that it’s important to communicate, not only, maybe not details about money initially, but what’s the vision? What’s the legacy that that grandparents and parents want to leave?
We just talked about, you know, one of the things that the title of the podcast is, millennials are motivated by more than money and more than profits. And so I think you can really motivate younger generations by instilling within them the values, the goals, the dreams that you have for your money and how you want to see it treated after you’re gone.
Greg: So, as millennials, you would find it helpful if your parents or grandparents had more conversations with you about wealth and about money.
Greg: Thank you. They were all nodding yes, forgetting that you cannot see their faces, but they were all nodding, absolutely. Which is interesting because we had a focus group with our parents and grandparents clients and they said to us, one of the things that they would like us to help them do is have conversations with their children and grandchildren about their wealth.
So, somewhere there’s a disconnect, isn’t there? Because when you look at the statistics, 70% of wealth is squandered in the second generation, 90% in the third generation. Number one reason is communication. Parents want, the grandparents want to communicate more. Children and grandchildren want to be communicated with more and there’s a disconnect. Hopefully, we, together, can facilitate those conversations because many times inheritance is viewed as a burden on the next generation and not a blessing, because it wasn’t communicated enough. Why do you think that is?
Katie: So, to Randy’s point. I agree that talking about money also includes the vision and the values and what the grandparents and parents have in mind for their grandchildren or kids. So, beyond that, to formally start talking about money, sit down in a room and put numbers on a screen is really foreign to most people. Even for themselves, I think some people that come in, prospective clients, new clients, it’s new to them.
So, for them to get their children and grandchildren in a room to talk about money, it’s really weird. So, I think that’s where we can come in as advisors to facilitate those meetings and just put some formality around it and it’ll be easier to talk about.
Greg: Do you think there’s a risk? I think one of the things parents worry about is if they talk about money and let their children and grandchildren know that they have some wealth that they’re ultimately going to inherit, the concern is they’ll become lazy.
Gregory: I think can do the opposite, actually. Just personally, we’ve been doing this in our family for the past few years, around Christmas time, once a year, we all sit down to talk and it’s really helpful, to me at least. I think it shows everyone a vision of: you watched your parents or grandparents grow up, go through their careers, what did they do to get to where they are? And it gives you a vision. Okay, I want to do what they did. I want to do better. I don’t want to make changes. And it lets the younger person or the millennial see what it takes to get to a spot. So, really helps you see what’s needed to meet your goals.
Greg: I’m just, sorry, I’m just curious for the rest of you, have your parents talked to you at all about their money or have you talked to them about money and wealth and expectations?
Randy: For me, a little bit, especially since I’ve been in the business.
Randy: And so, I’ve actually been fortunate, I’ve been able to offer some advice and help there. So we’ve talked about it more. Growing up, not so much.
Katie: Growing up? Not really, but like the informal talking about the value of a dollar, hard work. You know, you earn money, you save money, spend money. That was kind of discussed. But again, since being part of the industry, those conversations have turned into more detailed and goal-oriented type of conversation.
Greg: And we want to be clear, it’s not just talking about wealth like, “Holy cow, I’m going to get this inheritance.” It’s “Hey, here’s the difference you can make with this portfolio” or “Here’s why you work so hard” or “Here’s how you pay your bills.”
It’s interesting, you can go through college and never really learn how to put together a portfolio or save money or what a 401k is. So I’m not, we’re not just referring to this chunk of wealth that’s being transferred. It’s also just “How do you handle finances and the responsibility in general?” And my experience has been that when you have those conversation, there’s no correlation to lazy. So, we just need to dispel that myth. You see folks with means that are lazy. You see folks that have no wealth, that are lazy. It has more to do with values than it does wealth.
Randy: And I think that’s actually a really good point when you’re thinking about how to start these conversations because I would agree with Katie that my parents did do a very good job instilling values and hard work and how to think about money. And I think that can actually be a really good segue into some more specifics if that’s where you’re looking to go. And I think most parents have had some of those conversations around values and that makes it easier to transition.
Greg: It’s interesting that some, some folks will say, “I don’t want to talk about it,” as if, when they pass it’s going to be easier. I can assure you it’ll be more challenging. Right?
So that to talk about it and just start the conversation is wonderful. And in another podcast, we actually interview someone on philanthropy and talk about donor-advised funds and talk about how, how donor-advised funds can be the gateway conversation to talking to millennials and heirs about wealth.
Katie: Not just talking about legacy and inheritance, but I think having those conversations with your children also sets them up for personal success. A lot of people I know that are our age, they know nothing about 401ks, IRAs or anything. So, it also affects their lifetime, not just inheritance they have down the road. So, I think talking with your kids and your grandchildren will also help them personally, for themselves, their spouses, their families.
Greg: So as an organization, if we want to help facilitate those conversations and we want to help clients maximize their life, the moments in their life, and maximize their legacy by clearly defining it — one of the things we need to make sure is that our organization continues to attract and develop young talent.
So, all of you and others are here to help the next generation of clients, make sure we’re maximizing their lives and legacies also.
What is it about Confluence that you think makes it a unique place for a millennial to work?
Randy: Greg and Jim had done an exceptional job of communicating the vision where we’re going in making us feel like we are absolutely a part of that vision. One thing that Greg says is, you know, we’re not here to participate in the success of the organization. We are we’re here to create it.
Everything we do, and this was communicated from day one until now, is about the clients. It hasn’t been difficult for me to connect what we’re doing with a greater meaning because it’s so obvious every day. And we talk about it and make sure that that focus doesn’t change.
Greg: I think just the energy in the office, all of the offices, everyone’s always trying to figure out a way to improve the client experience or better each other through the sharing of podcasts and just growth, sharing articles, books, everything like that. There’s just so much energy in the office that it makes it a fun place to work. You really care about what you’re doing.
Chuck: And in addition to Gregory’s comment the importance of challenging each other all the time that consistently get better, right? We don’t want to plateau or level off. We want to continue to level up our performance internally and also with our clients.
Greg: Yeah, I think we all agree, right? If you’re not willing to be challenged, probably the wrong spot, for all of us.
Katie: The vision for Confluence is, every day we’re talking about it, we’re thinking about it. So, if you have a long-term vision about anything, you’ll do anything to get to that goal, that vision down the road. So I think every day we know where we’re going, we know we have to do every single day to get there and like Gregory said, the energy in the offices and with everybody is like, it influences you every single day. On the weekends, during the week, anything.
We’re all totally focused on what we’re doing. And I think another thing to mention would be the older generations, from my viewpoint at least, they separated work and life: went to work every day, came home, forgot about work, like shut it off, went home, watched TV, went to bed, went to work again.
With our organization, with millennials, I think it’s important that we see working and life — you know, work-life balance isn’t a thing. We just, we work and we live. And it’s all the same. I think Confluence does a really good job of teaching us how to do that and enjoying it while we’re doing it.
Randy: You can almost call it work life integration.
Greg: Yeah, that’s a great point. That’s a good point. We communicate often when we’re not in the office, right through text or calls or whatever. And so we just live, I don’t know if we’re working or playing, we just live.
Having said that, I hope you would agree, that if you had something important in your families and it was a Wednesday at three o’clock — the other side of it’s also true, that you should be there. Would you agree with that?
Greg: Yeah. I hope that would be the case.
Gregory: Yeah, the flexibility is definitely there if you need it.
Greg: Flexibility’s there. But, but just as far as the energy and the collaboration, does anyone want to explain the offsite we had on Friday, for example, just how everybody contributes to the future of the organization and really how much input there is into that.
Katie: Yeah. So last Friday we got together as a company. I think there’s 28 employees now. So, we get together and the focus of the offsites is usually, “What are we doing today that we need to improve on? What are we doing today that is good? And what’s working?” And then we also do kind of long-term goal slash vision activities. Like how can we innovate? How can we as a company beat the competition? It’s very collaborative and fun. The energy’s there.
Greg: I got to tell you, “beat the competition” was sort of an interesting drill we did. We split the room into two and we were going to do one half of the room was still at Confluence. The other half of the room was fired by Confluence. And the other half, the one side of the room that’s fired would have to create an organization that could serve clients better than we could.
And we scrapped that idea and split the associates into two and said, okay, you have to create a firm from scratch that would serve clients better than Confluence. What would you do? And it was interesting, right? I mean we had some things that became obvious that maybe we could work on, in the next 10, 20 and 30 years as we think long term.
So, based on some of the things you guys have said so far, the opening to the podcast sounds like it’s accurate, right? 92% of millennials do believe success should be measured by more than just profit. Do you all agree with that?
Katie: I agree, but it’s also a business, so it’s important to know where you’re going and know what you have to do.
Greg: Well, for us to, for us to be here in 50 years for our clients and for their children or grandchildren, we need to run a profitable, growing firm.
Randy: Because of all the negative stereotypes of millennials, I think sometimes you may read that statement, which is “92% of the millennials measure success by more than just profits.” They would read that to say, well, millennials don’t care about profits. They’re not realistic, but I think the reality is, we do care about profits, but we recognize that there’s more as well.
Greg: I guess I would think Jim and I would read the 92% as too low, because the fact that any business would be run for only profit is remarkable. Right? That’s not, that’s capitalist, but that’s not compassionate.
So, we have a lot of goals in the organization. I can assure you, a specific profitability number? We’ve never even discussed it.
Randy: Greg, here’s a question for you as we talk about the importance of profitability. You know, we’re on the investment advisory committee and we look at investments every day. Can you share a little bit about how that impacts our investment philosophy?
Greg: A great organization cares about profit as we stated, but equally important, if it’s an organization that is only focused on current profit and not also developing people, not innovating, not doing R&D, right? And investing back into themselves. That is a short-term success. So, I think our organization isn’t all that different than the portfolio managers or companies that we would feel most comfortable investing in. And that is, they absolutely understand the profitability of today, but they don’t sacrifice the future by maximizing their profitability today. And a key component of that is making sure you’re investing in the right people, the right products and the right technology.
Chuck: Well. And I also think too, if you build a team based on solely profitability, you’re going to get a bunch of people at the table and an organization that thinks the same way. And what I think Confluence does a really good job on is putting people in positions and building a team around people skill set, and developing and putting them in positions to succeed.
Gregory: Yeah. If a company was only focused on profits, we would not have the energy in the office that we do. Just wouldn’t happen
Greg: Yeah. We’re building it for the next 50 years, which brings up the next question. I may not be here in 50 years, or at least won’t be quite as active. You all, hopefully, will. What does Confluence look like in 50 years?
Katie: So, 50 years is a long time. I think the industry we’re in is going to completely change. I think it will always encompass what we do now, in addition to wealth management, I think it’ll become a more holistic picture of the person and the family. So, not just managing their assets, but helping them to be healthy, stay healthy, focus more on intangible goals. So, moments with their families, their loved ones. And I think we’ll just in 50 years, God willing, we’ll have a better way of making that happen for everybody.
Randy: Another note about millennials is, we talk about fees and you always hear about fee compression and millennials don’t want to pay. I think that’s not entirely fair. I think millennials appreciate good value and they’re willing to pay for services again that they find valuable. And to that point, I think the industry and Confluence, I think we’ll be on the cutting edge of this, is going to evolve, like Katie said, to encompass more things to make it so that we’re able to do more for our clients in a more holistic way. And again, I don’t think millennials have a problem paying for that kind of thing. They just want to know what they’re getting.
Chuck: And I do think that having difference of opinions on our team and having our age gap, that we’re going to be a firm that communicates with all ages in a way that they’re most comfortable. Right? Whether it is an office that is, you know, more conducive to the younger generation or text messages or podcasts or video meetings, whatever it is, we want to be based around the client, no matter what their age is, versus just being the older advisor that has a huge conference room with too many chairs and it’s uncomfortable for them. So, we want to provide our clients, an area that they’re going to be the most comfortable in.
Greg: Wonderful. I guess, I guess the advice and the challenge to all of us and then, to all of you will be, let’s never lose the value of the art values of the organization, of creating a new standard for clients, but let’s become absolutely flexible so we can evolve in helping them in many different ways over the next 50 years. And if we do that, we’ll continue to have a strong organization that’ll have an impact on families for generations to come.
Well, thank you. Thank you for your input. We continue to benefit from your association with Confluence and look forward to working with you for the next 30 to 50 years. I said that to be happy and to feel successful, you have to believe your future is going to be greater than your past. And based on the faces I’m looking at right now, there’s no question that’ll be true.
So, thank you so much for your participation. And more importantly, thank you for everybody that listened to this podcast. We look forward to sharing more podcasts with you in the future, and the way you access them is to get on ConfluenceFP.com/podcasts.
We look forward to speaking with you in the future, and if you have any topics you would like us to review, please let us know. Thank you.
Youth is served as Confluence’s associates, Randy Holcombe, Katie Montagazzi, Gregory Weimer II, and Chuck Ziants, join Greg to discuss the future of financial services and wealth management. Together, the team addresses some of the misconceptions around millennials and money, examines Confluence’s culture of teamwork, continuous improvement and work-life integration, and explores what it takes to continue to be an elite wealth management practice.
This session was recorded on June 3, 2019.
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