When Alim Dhanji, a Certified Financial Planner® professional with Assante Wealth Management in Vancouver, British Columbia, meets with recent graduates or young adults, he uses analogies that resonate with the age group, often comparing financial plans to backpacks, and budgets to water bottles.
For more than a decade, once a year Mr. Dhanji has been invited by the graduating Masters of Physiotherapy class to address students at the University of British Columbia.
“I take the students on a ‘financial hike’ – a discussion about financial goals and the different backpacks you need depending on the route of the hike,” he explains. “A day pack for short-term goals, a fun backpack and a retirement backpack – and all the different survival tools you need in each backpack and financial plan.”
Graduates are often understandably nervous when they first meet with a financial planner, says Mr. Dhanji.
“It’s something they haven’t done before, but they really benefit from seeing a CFP professional and getting the basics in place right from the start. I tell them to continue to live like a student, keep their costs as low as possible and avoid the pitfalls like buying a flashy new car and adding to any existing debt,” he says.
Many questions at the first meeting relate to debt and present a good opportunity to introduce budgeting using the water bottle analogy, comparing the water to money: it comes in and it flows out.
Biljana Manojlovic, CFP, at RBC Wealth Management, Private Banking in Vancouver, agrees that an awareness of where the money is coming from and where it’s being spent is a crucial step.
“There are a lot of ‘firsts’ for this age group. It can be the first time they are earning a regular income, first payments on student loans or maybe saving for a first car. It’s important to identify their goals, prioritize them and then plan to achieve them,” she says. “The amount they are earning doesn’t matter, but it is important to start a good habit and put something away every month. A financial plan helps one to see the whole picture and then stay on track.”
Ms. Manojlovic says graduates are justifiably concerned about their debt.
“It’s important to pay it off because as they move to the next stages of their lives, they will likely acquire more debt, for example if they purchase a home,” she says, adding CFP professionals can also share valuable insights about what banks look for when granting a mortgage and the value of establishing a good credit rating.
A 2017 survey conducted by Leger for the Financial Planning Standards Council shows that three in 10 Canadians say that assisting their children with post-secondary costs will or has already postponed their retirement and has or will prevent them from paying off their own debt. Through education and financial coaching services for young adults, CFP professionals can help create financial independence while alleviating some of the burden and guilt these young people are experiencing as a result.
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For more information about financial planning for young adults, read I'm too young for financial planning...aren't I?, Launching your career? 6 healthy financial planning habits to start now and keep for life and 5 important financial pitfalls for Millennials.