Blair Hodgson DuQuesnay disproves a well-circulated myth: that financial planning is the exclusive province of grey-headed advisors who cater to middle-aged and elderly clients with fat wallets.
The 31-year-old advisor just founded her own independent registered investment advisor business that caters to young professionals in New Orleans. She believes that advisors neglect to harness the power of the Web and ignore younger investors at their own peril. Clients in Generation X and Y are tomorrow’s well-heeled set.
DuQuesnay founded Ignite Investments & Planning to fill what she saw as a void in the market for transparent, unbiased financial advice that gives equal weight to investing and long-term planning. After five years with UBS Financial Services in Atlanta and New York City, she spent 18 months with Wealthstream Advisors, a New York boutique advisory firm, before moving to New Orleans.
She was attracted to New Orleans’ vibrant culture and entrepreneurs’ community as well as proximity to her family in Alabama. She became a partner at Ferro Financial, just outside of the Big Easy, and stayed for two years before starting her own RIA. The tough part about making young professionals the centrepiece of her business plan is that many are wary of Wall Street, due to the financial crisis, or lack investable assets.
“On so many occasions, I heard people say that they wished they had enough money to work with me,” DuQuesnay says. “Part of my job is to educate people and tell them that, even if they have no assets outside a 401(k) or a home, there are still things that I can do to help.” Those include working out a plan to pay down student debt, taking steps toward purchasing a first home or helping with retirement plan allocations.
The financial services industry is too focused on baby boomers and retirees, according to DuQuesnay. Young families are underserved, she believes, and don’t even realise that they can become clients. “I hope that I can help them realise that there are easy changes that they can make now before they wait too long and have to make harder choices,” she says.
“Social media don’t necessarily pull leads, but it validates you. I rarely make first contact with someone on social media, but people look on the Internet for everything first,” she says. “Huge numbers of millenials check Facebook and Twitter first thing in the morning, and that’s one great way to reach them.”
She says that it’s also important that advisors put more than just basic information on their websites.
“I write articles on a wide variety of financial topics,” she says. “If an article resonates with someone, they might see me as an expert in the field and perhaps think of me when they need help.”
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