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A Further Look | Apr 12, 2024

It’s a Privilege to Serve Multiple Generations; Wherever They Are in Life

David B. Root, Jr.


I recently pointed out that we will be celebrating our 30th year in business this month. One of the greatest rewards for such longevity is having the privilege of serving clients comprised of three generations; Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. The value of professional financial advice is germane to all three, but it is important to note that each group is unique in their experiences, preferences and retirement horizons.

Building and executing an effective financial plan for multiple generations is not an easy undertaking and its importance should not be underestimated. But while there are broad preferences among each generation, every individual is still unique. So, our job really doesn’t change that much when working with different generations—it still comes down to listening and appreciating each client’s complex needs.

Despite differing preferences across generations, there is one common denominator among these groups: all have built, or are in the process of building, wealth through sacrifice, hard work, and a strong set of financial values that includes setting retirement goals, growing family wealth and prioritizing saving and spending. Firms like ours must have advisors and teams that are able to connect with multiple generations and understand their experiences and desires at a fundamental level. They must also be able to adapt to a changing financial landscape. Most importantly, they need to be able to listen to clients’ needs as individuals, regardless of generational factors. As our website pledges, “We meet you where you are.”

With over 100 years of combined experience, our financial planning team at DBR & CO continues to develop appropriate solutions to ensure each generation is served successfully. Senior Financial Advisor, Nancy Kunz, CFP®,CPFA®,ChFC®,CLU® is a proponent of the notion that ‘everyone needs a plan.’ Nancy is responsible for developing strategies for our Financial Planning Committee. She specializes in creating comprehensive solutions that can help simplify the wealth planning process for multiple generations of clients and their families. Her expertise includes estate and trust planning, retirement planning and philanthropic strategies. I personally consider her a treasure to the firm.

As a highly experienced advisor from the baby boomer generation, she has seen it all. She has worked with Baby Boomers who experienced the savings and loan crisis, the oil and energy crisis, high inflation and multiple wars starting with Vietnam. She also understands Gen Xers who still remember the robust stock market of the 1990s and the crash, and were hit hardest by the 2008 recession. And now, Millennials - the children of Boomers. Their biggest challenges include paying down student loans, being able to purchase a home and like their parents’ generation, managing high inflation.

Although Nancy understands that each generation has certain characteristics that influence how they view their advisor relationship, she doesn’t make assumptions or generalizations based on what she thinks they want. Even if directionally correct, she wouldn’t be serving them in the personal way they expect and deserve. As a result, she often finds herself working on solutions that will benefit more than one generation. For example, she and her team have been working on an estate plan for a physician client who is still working well into his seventies. By creating a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) for his wife for $6m before the end of 2025, they could save almost $6m in federal estate taxes at the second death in 2045. Nancy says the key to success is just getting started: “If we plan the right way, we can save many dollars in federal estate taxes while maximizing the transfer of assets to a client’s children. But we have to start the process.”

All of our clients participate in a formal interview process at the start of our relationship to determine their goals and personal situation. Even though each generation will have a different attitude when it comes to their money and investments, there are many intergenerational similarities. And while every generation may require a different path to get there, the biggest roadblock is managing the complexity of the issues they face.

With a proper plan in place, the process can be greatly simplified. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about feeling financially secure for the future? As Nancy insists, the most important step is just getting started…the sooner the better!

Thanks for reading.

This material has been provided for general, informational purposes only, represents only a summary of the topics discussed, and is not suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be construed as personalized investment advice or recommendations. Rather, they simply reflect the opinions and views of the author. D. B. Root & Company, LLC. does not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. Before making decisions with legal, tax, or accounting ramifications, you should consult appropriate professionals for advice that is specific to your situation. There can be no assurance that any particular strategy or investment will prove profitable. This document contains information derived from third party sources. Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such sources, and take no responsibility therefore. This document contains certain forward-looking statements signaled by words such as "anticipate," "expect", or "believe" that indicate future possibilities. Due to known and unknown risks, other uncertainties and factors, actual results may differ materially from the expectations portrayed in such forward-looking statements. As such, there is no guarantee that the expectations, beliefs, views and opinions expressed in this document will come to pass. Information presented herein is subject to change without notice and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses. The impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the economy is highly uncertain. Valuations and economic data may change more rapidly and significantly than under standard market conditions. COVID-19 has and will continue based on economic forecasts to have a material impact on the US and global economy for an unknown period.

David B. Root, Jr.


Founder & Chief Executive Officer

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