By: Brian Fechter
As we explore the financial landscape, one question comes to mind: In Zechariah’s experience working with Gen Y/Z entrepreneurs, crypto investors, and business owners, what unique perspectives or approaches to financial management set them apart from others?
Zechariah shares his insights on the distinct financial challenges and opportunities faced by these demographics and how his tailored approach to financial planning helps clients achieve their goals while staying true to their values.
The conversation delves into the complexities of crypto investments, tax strategies, and risk management, offering valuable perspectives for those interested in understanding the financial mindset of younger generations and learning how to manage cryptocurrency investments effectively.
As we uncover Zechariah’s innovative approach to wealth management that emphasizes experiences, purpose, and security in a rapidly changing technological environment, consider this question:
How can we redefine the concept of wealth and success to better align with the values and aspirations of today’s generations?
BRIAN: What motivated you to focus on this specific target market, and how has your personal journey in financial management contributed to your expertise and success within this niche?
ZECHARIAH: I refer to them as Gen Z and Millennial innovators, but in reality, they are individuals who invest in crypto, work in the tech industry, and are business owners, with the ideal scenario being that they are all three.
What got me started is that when I was young, my parents went through a fairly messy divorce, and my dad managed our money. Up until that point, he had done really well with it, but after the divorce, life was flipped upside down in a ton of ways, including financially.
I saw my mom needing advice but not being able to get it. She didn’t know who to trust or where to get the advice she needed. That planted the seed early on that there are people out there who need advice but can’t get it.
I went into financial advising and worked with a couple of really high-quality wealth management firms. I saw my peers who needed help but couldn’t get it, and it broke my heart. They weren’t poor either; they had the money but needed help and were practically begging to pay a fee for it.
They would either find an advisor who was free, but every time they got pitched on life insurance, or they would find an advisor who they liked, but unfortunately, the advisor would say, “When you have a million dollars, come back.”
I was like, this is great for retirees, but what about all these people who need help? At the same time, I’m in my early twenties, and I’m thinking, I’ve always wanted to start my own firm. But I’ve been helping all these young people for free because I’m so passionate about it.
That’s when the niche emerged.
The group I would add the most value to logically are crypto investors, tech professionals, and business owners because I understand them and know that the decisions that they should be taking are kind of a marriage of the mathematical side and the human side.
I think my capacity, with an assistant on the admin and financial planning sides, is probably around 125 clients, and so far, I have accepted just under 20 clients.
Out of those clients, 65% are business owners, and most of them are in tech, about 60%. Interestingly, the percentage of clients who invest in crypto is a little smaller than the percentage of business owners and tech professionals, coming in at 40%.
This is how I discovered my niche, and it’s what drives my passion for working with these individuals.
BRIAN: It absolutely did, and it makes perfect sense. You had your initial group, which you knew from your experience was underserved. You want to go serve that group, and within doing that, you just found the natural affinity for who you can serve best.
It is quite interesting how there is such a great overlap between the crypto people and the people who are really successful in tech that they ultimately either already are or become business owners themselves.
And just out of curiosity, how many of those people are business owners within the digital asset space? Do you have anybody who’s the founder of a project within Web 3?
ZECHARIAH: That’s a great question. I don’t have the actual analytics on that. But what I do know is that out of all the clients, those percentages are absolute.
So 40% are crypto, but a lot of those crypto people are business owners that are in tech. There are at least several Web 3 or digital asset-based businesses that are owned by those business owners.
For example, one of the people that I recently started working with is a couple in their thirties. She runs a photography business, and he runs a crypto services business. His expertise is building high-quality data centers and specifically doing liquid immersion mining.
Another client who I’m really excited about hopefully working with runs a YCom-backed NFT venture and NFT projects. He’s the crypto investor, the tech professional, and the founder. So, yes, it’s very overlapped.
BRIAN: I didn’t know that YCOM was backing NFT ventures. That’s pretty interesting.
So, in your experience working with Gen Z and Millennial founders and business owners, what makes that group of clients so different from the rest of that generation, and how do you approach working with them differently?
ZECHARIAH: Well, in general, I believe that Gen Z and Millennials are different from our parents. In the news, Millennials always got blamed for everything—”they were ruining everything”—and Gen Z has been described as apathetic, only coming to work from 2 to 3 and only if there’s a happy hour and it’s a Friday.
But the reality is that many of the Millennials and Gen Z individuals that I work with, who are probably not representative of the entire generation, are really driven.
I think the reason for that is that they saw their parents have great jobs, spend a ton of money, and then wake up and realize that if they wanted to maintain their current lifestyle, they needed to save 60% of their income over the next 10 years.
So, many of the high-performing salespeople or founders that I meet with are very focused on planning for the future because they saw the mistakes their parents made.
In terms of how these clients differ from those that most wealth management firms work with in general, the big difference is that we are helping them accumulate wealth as opposed to working with what they’ve already accumulated and helping them figure out how to maintain it.
Regarding founders specifically, I’ve discovered that they often have a unique mindset where they are trying to be awake in every aspect of life and live intentionally. This means that they understand the big picture and are focused on growing their business and doing the things they love while also prioritizing their loved ones. They are willing to pay premium fees to my firm because it means that they can spend their time getting another dollar as opposed to being on the IRS website.
While there are many Millennials and Gen Z individuals who are not ready to pay the fees my firm charges, the founders are usually more willing to pay because they understand the value that we bring.
When you’re a founder and when you’re young, there are just so many more tax opportunities that you can take advantage of than being a W-2 employee, which is fine, of course, but there’s a lot more that we can do and a lot more levers that we can pull.
Additionally, there’s a lot more value for them to choose to work with us as opposed to someone who has a high W-2 income and isn’t a business owner.
BRIAN: Absolutely. I’m on the cusp of Gen Z, born in 1996, so depending on the website I look at, some call me a Millennial and some call me a Gen Z. The majority of my peers believe that working with an advisor is only for the ultra-wealthy and middle-aged.
It’s great to see go-getters who want to put themselves in a good spot now, not wanting to be like their parents, who saved more of their income than necessary because they didn’t do that for the past 20–30 years.
Values and goals for this generation differ from those of our parents. Many care about maximizing profit and growing their portfolio, but they also want to do it ethically and improve their lives and those of their loved ones.
It’s not as self-serving. Would you agree?
ZECHARIAH: Oh, absolutely. One thing that sets Gen Z and Millennials apart from previous generations, including our parents’, is their focus on experiences and people rather than maximizing profits. When I sit down with clients, I can tell it’s not all about the money for them. I advise them to manage their finances intentionally, ensuring they have time and freedom to go on adventures, take vacations, and support the causes they care about.
This focus is a big deal for them, and it’s a major reason they want to work with me or someone like me. They understand that starting with the end in mind and doing it early keeps them focused on what truly matters: people. Otherwise, they might get caught up in the rat race and lose sight of their original priorities, becoming consumed by the allure of money, which is ultimately empty and unfulfilling.
BRIAN: Money is just the vessel to do what you’d like to do. People think it’s all about having a specific amount in their IRA before they retire. But what do you want to do with that money? What should the retirement phase of your life look like? That’s just as important as having a financial goal.
It used to be that you needed a million dollars to retire, but as factors like inflation and social security uncertainties come into play, it’s important to focus on what you want to accomplish during retirement and see what can be done to set you up for that.
ZECHARIAH: Clients often come in with a specific number they want to achieve, like $100 million or $10 billion. I ask them why and figure out what’s driving that. Usually, they leave with more of a vision of what they want, and my firm and I worry about the numbers.
Oftentimes, the number that will drive their true desires is either a lot higher or lower, and it’s usually lower. A retirement goal of $1 million isn’t what it used to be; if you retire on that amount today, between that and social security, you’re lucky to get $60K a year for 30 years.
BRIAN: The way I see it, if you’re increasing your income throughout your career, you’re in a good position. However, $60k in the nineties was considered upper-class.
ZECHARIAH: Yes, and now that figure is usually an entry-level salary. So that’s been an interesting shift, and six figures isn’t what it used to be.
BRIAN: As the financial landscape evolves and clients’ needs change, especially for those heavily invested in crypto, what are the most pressing challenges and opportunities they face? How do you address them to continue delivering quality advice and planning?
ZECHARIAH: We handle everything, including crypto, with the same excellence as any regular wealth management firm. What sets us apart is our approach to risk management, integration into their plans, and security. For example, we discuss security with clients almost from the start, like using a ledger wallet. The first conversation is about their exposure to crypto and whether they’re overexposed.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose” in crypto, but almost nobody follows that. I’m sitting down with clients, and I say to them, we’ve talked about how much you value experiences and your kids’ futures, like going to college or starting a business, but all of that depends on how well Bitcoin performs. Are you comfortable with that?
Sometimes they are, and sometimes they’re not. In response, we allocate funds for specific goals, while they usually let most of their crypto ride, aware of and comfortable with the risks.
But that’s the first thing we’re addressing, and it’s making sure that weakness is shored up.
The second major concern for crypto clients is tax opportunities. Taxes are a significant challenge, particularly dealing with crypto taxes. It’s overwhelming even to consider tax strategies while trying to complete them accurately.
Unfortunately, every one of my heavy crypto clients, which make up 40% of my clientele, made a significant tax mistake before hiring me. So, not only do we help them do their crypto taxes properly going forward, but we also think about their tax strategy proactively. Our goal is to minimize their lifetime tax bill.
If you have an asset like crypto that you believe will grow exponentially, wouldn’t you want your tax strategy set up correctly? We implement complex trust strategies and recommend placing high-risk, high-reward assets in IRAs and 401(k)s. Having crypto in a Roth IRA is far better than bonds or blue-chip US stocks because if your crypto increases by 100 times, you’ll save millions in capital gain taxes.
This approach is a massive benefit for crypto clients that most others don’t have because they lack a high-risk, high-reward asset that can easily be moved to a tax-efficient location.
BRIAN: Providing guidance and expertise in an asset class where many financial professionals lack understanding or comfort is an incredibly valuable service to your clients. It is fantastic to hear that you are really thinking of every possible angle to help your clients and their complex financial situations.
Thank you so much for your time, Zechariah. It has been a pleasure getting to learn more about you, Ascent Personal Finance, and how you are moving the needle in the wealth management world for your practice and your clients.
In conclusion, this engaging dialogue with Zechariah Schaefer has shed light on the distinctive financial perspectives and priorities of Gen Z and Millennials, as well as the unique challenges and opportunities they face in the realm of crypto and tech investments.
As the financial landscape continues to evolve, it’s crucial for younger generations to embrace a proactive approach to wealth management that prioritizes their values, experiences, and long-term goals, ultimately changing the conversation around money and success.
As you reflect on the insights shared by Zechariah, consider this question: How can you apply these innovative financial strategies to strike the perfect balance between risk, reward, and long-term financial security in your own life?
If you would like to learn more about Zechariah’s firm, Ascent Personal Finance, and how it helps Gen Z and Millennial Founders/Entrepreneurs, Tech Professionals, & Crypto Investors to build wealth intentionally, invest wisely, and save on taxes, click here.
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To connect about media inquiries or to discuss the article, please email Brian Fechter at: email@example.com