This Isn’t Your Father’s Financial Planner: Q&A with Sophia Bera

By Andy Hayes

It’s a fresh week, and that means a fresh start for you – and a new interview! This week we’re talking with Sophia Bera from Gen Y Planning. The word financial planner can certainly strike fear in the hearts of those with underfunded retirement accounts, but hear us out… financial planning has changed, and we think you’ll appreciate the fresh approach that Sophia’s generation brings us.

Let’s dive right in…

You mention on your site that you “are not your father’s financial planner.” What’s different now than when our parents were facing their first money challenges?

I think that people didn’t have access to debt in previous generations like we do today. College was much more affordable so people graduated with just a few thousand in student loan debt. It was hard for people to get car loans in their 20s because they didn’t have much credit so people didn’t buy new cars and homes until they were much older. A lot of my clients have significant amount of student loan debt but they’re also making more money than anyone else in their family so they don’t know who to talk to about it. I love working with them to figure out how much to put towards savings, paying down debt, and their 401(k) plans.

On your site, you mention that if you have credit card debt or are not saving, you need a savings plan, not a financial planner. What is the difference between saving and investing, to you? Is one more important than the other?

Savings and investing are both important and I help my clients with both of them as part of the financial planning process. I think it’s important to have emergency savings of at least $1,000 before people aggressively pay off their credit card debt or else they’ll keep going back into debt. I also work with a handful of clients that come to me with over $100K in savings. I help them move from a saver to an investor by deciding how we want to make that money work for them. We might decide to keep $25,000 in emergency savings, increase their 401(k) contributions so that they hit the max, and then open a brokerage account with the remaining amount. The best place to start investing is within a retirement account. If you get a company match on your 401(k) make sure you contribute at least enough to get the match otherwise, you’re leaving free money on the table.

Pretend you’re at a dinner party, and the host mentions to everyone that you’re a financial planner. Another guests asks you for the best piece of advice you’ve learned over the years of being a planner, what would you say?

Use your money to create a life you love. We come up with a lot of excuses as to why we aren’t living the life we want, and money is a big excuse but it doesn’t have to be. I help my clients figure out a plan to create a great life and then we use their money to fund their dreams.

For more financial planning insights, follow Gen Y Planning on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *