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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 18, 2016 3 years ago

Early enrollment

Persuading millennials to invest money in a financial adviser isn't easy. How will Lawrence Financial Planning do it?
by: Steven Benna Staff Writer

Lawrence Financial Planning manages clients with a net worth of at least $10 million, but a new initiative launched by the Tampa-based firm targets a completely different demographic.

Earlier this year the firm launched a mini-plan for young professionals to help them get started in investing, says Ross Allen, 31, a financial adviser at Lawrence Financial Planning.
Allen says he has noticed a trend toward attracting millennials for many businesses, which helped spark his idea for the plan.

“These young professionals know that they want to get started,” Allen says. “They just don't know how.”

The target for Lawrence Financial Planning's mini-plan is a young professional in his or her 20s to early 30s, Allen says. The mini-plan, which costs $900 for a year or $80 per month, helps young professionals choose the right employer benefits, pick investments for their 401k, 403b or other retirement plan, maintain a budget and cash flow and develop debt repayment strategies.

“It's harder to get started now, but I would say start as early as possible,” Allen says. “The earlier they start, the less catching up they have to do.”

When getting started, Allen suggests putting money into savings accounts, emergency funds and retirement accounts.

There is only one limitation to enrolling in Lawrence Financial's mini-plan: a client's net worth cannot exceed $300,000. Once it grows past that point, clients will be automatically bumped up to a full plan, Allen says.

Adding millennials to its portfolio means entry into a new market for Lawrence Financial Planning, founded by finance industry veteran Julie Lawrence in 2009. Prior to the young professional mini-plan, Allen says the company had clients with a net worth ranging from $250,000 to more than $10 million. Fees for those clients start at $4,200 a year and can be more than $20,000 a year, depending on the services.

The company manages more than $76 million in assets and has more than 400 clients, according to data filed with the Security and Exchange Commission in January. It is a fee-only company, Allen says, where revenues come solely from the services it provides to its clients.

Breaking into this new demographic requires specific marketing, and Lawrence Financial plans to attract millennial customers just as one would expect: online and through word of mouth.

“We rely heavily on referrals,” Allen says. “But we put the information on our website and our social media sites as well. We've got a blog, LinkedIn and Facebook, and we'll inform our current clients for word of mouth from people in our existing client base.”

One large key to recruiting millennial clients has been to add younger planners at the company, Allen says. Allen cites himself and Bria Schuster, an administrative assistant who is training to become a financial planner, as examples of the firm going younger.

Follow Steven Benna on Twitter @steve_benna

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