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The Problem of Affordable Financial Advice for Young People
Affordable financial advice for young people is hard to find. As I describe below, this opens a great opportunity for making a huge difference and being handsomely rewarded for it.
Ben Le Fort makes a strong case for how those most in need of financial advice, currently Gen Z, can least afford it. He says:
“Young people simply don’t have enough money to invest for the advisor to make any money. If you are 23 years old and have $5,000 to invest at a 2% annual fee the advisor would only make $100 per year from this young client. Compare that to the $10,000 they could make from a client with $500,000 to invest and it’s easy to understand why the financial services industry is shunning the younger generation.”
Le Fort suggests that a fee-for-service advisor would be a better solution for young people with far less money to invest. I agree, but would argue that if a client only has $5000 in liquid assets, paying a professional advisor for a few hours of advice would still be prohibitive. Say you’re the advisor, and you’re asked to help the client with the topics mentioned by Mr. Le Fort in his article, including:
- Assessing current compensation and how to negotiate a raise
- Developing a career plan to optimize earnings without sacrificing non-work life
- Figuring out what’s important to the client, such as:
- Ensuring loved ones are taken care of if something happens to him that impacts his ability to provide for them
- Buying a home
- His kids’ education
- Activities that align with his values, etc.)
- Educating the client as to what shouldn’t be important, such as “keeping up with the Joneses,” so he doesn’t feel forced to spend beyond his means
- Developing a budget he can live with that addresses his priorities
- Identifying the types of investments that make sense for his individual circumstances
What Would You Need to Charge for This?
Obviously, you can’t do all this in one hour. You need to ask the client a lot of questions to know how to tailor your answers to his individual situation and personality. Then, you need to do that tailoring. Next, you need to explain your financial plan to the client. Finally, you need to answer the client’s questions once he digests all your advice.
Even if you’re incredibly wise, experienced, and knowledgeable, you’d be hard pressed to do all that in less than 10 hours. If you expect to be paid say $250/hour (most lawyers charge much more than that, so if you’re a great advisor, why would you charge less?), the resulting $2500 fee would eat up half the client’s investable assets! Clearly that’s not viable.
A Business Opportunity that Solves the Problem and Makes a Difference
Instead, here’s a way to offer affordable financial advice for young people (or anyone else), with a huge profit potential – develop a high-touch online course to help people in groups.
Creating an effective online course takes a lot of upfront effort, plus some ongoing implementation costs. However, once you finish creating the course, you’re looking at potentially very high ongoing revenue, with minimal marginal time investment per class.
A Hypothetical Case Study Exploring the Potential
Here’s a hypothetical case study exploring the potential for this sort of business. First, let’s agree on some assumptions.
- First and most obvious, you are an experienced and knowledgeable financial advisor, as well as a talented communicator
- You can create a 4-week course in 100 hours over the course of two months
- Your course will guide students through the process of discovering what they need and want, and what’s important to them; and then guide them through developing their own individual plan for reaching their goals
- You can market effectively enough to bring in 20 new students each month for a course priced at $125 (a one-time charge that’s 2.5% of your ideal student’s notional $5000 in liquid assets)
- You spend half an hour per week running online “office hours” using e.g. Zoom video meetings, where you answer questions from students
- Your expenses in implementing and delivering the course run at 25% of top-line revenue
The Potential Results
In Year 1, you spend the first two months creating the course and marketing it, then the next 10 months running and refining the course for 10 groups of 20 students. Your top-line revenue for this year is $25k, of which your profits are $18,750. For the 120 hours spent this year, your hourly profit is $156.25. Not great compared to $250/hour, but not too shabby.
In Years 2 and on, you run the course monthly with 20 students in each cohort. Since you already created the course, you don’t need to spend the 100 upfront hours. Assuming you spend 10 hours a year to refine your course, your results improve dramatically. Now, your revenue is $30k of which $22,500 is profit. Divided by the 34 hours of effort, your hourly rate is a healthy $661.76/hour.
Scale Up – Help More People, Make More Money
Once you finish refining the course, you hire other people to support you in marketing and delivering it. This lets you recruit and deliver the course to many more students without sacrificing their experience and the benefits they gain from completing your course.
Since you have employees to market and deliver the course, we really shouldn’t think of your income in hourly terms. Instead, let’s see what your results might be on an annual basis. Between the help you hire for marketing and delivery, you can now run 10 weekly courses of 20 students each. That’s 10,400 students per year, bringing in a total of $1,300,000.
You hire a full-time marketer at $100k, a full-time admin at $50k, and a full-time course instructor at $100k. Assuming a payroll overhead of 30%, your total payroll cost is $325k. With your now larger scale, your non-payroll costs could drop to 15% of top-line revenue, or $195k. This leaves you with an annual income of $780,000.
Since you no longer spend time on the existing course, you develop further offerings to expand on that original course. If you create two additional courses that perform similarly, your take-home income could be in excess of $2.3 million!
At $125 per student, you’re providing highly affordable financial advice for tens of thousands of people each year!
How’s that for a business opportunity that makes an incredible difference?
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.
About the author:
My career has had many unpredictable twists and turns. A MSc in theoretical physics, PhD in experimental high-energy physics, postdoc in particle detector R&D, research position in experimental cosmic-ray physics (including a couple of visits to Antarctica), a brief stint at a small engineering services company supporting NASA, followed by starting my own small consulting practice supporting NASA projects and programs. Along the way, I started other micro businesses and helped my wife start and grow her own Marriage and Family Therapy practice. Now, I use all these experiences to also offer financial strategy services to help independent professionals achieve their personal and business finance goals.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.