On the 28th floor of a high-rise in Chicago’s South Loop, Cortlon Cofield, owner and financial planner at Cofield Advisors, has to get creative with his 20- to 30-year-old clients to help them save their money.
Travel, weddings and future mortgages are among the items they increasingly want to spend their money on, but they may struggle with paying off student loans, along with having little discretionary income as they start their careers.
As a millennial himself, Cofield, 27, says understanding his clients’ personalities and their relationship with money helps him devise a plan to help them save without giving up what’s most important to them.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I was a lifeguard at 15 at a local pool. It was very fun, but it showed me that just because you work at a fun place doesn’t mean you can always have fun with everyone else.
Q: Finance can be boring. How do you make millennials care?
A: A really big part of my job is finding a way to make finance creative and fun. If you just tell somebody “retirement plan,” they fall asleep. So you have to find really really creative ways to get them interested. I don’t use “budgeting”; I use “spending plans,” which are like, How can you spend your money the best way to live your best life?
Q: What do you think millennials struggle with specifically when it comes to their finances?
A: The biggest thing I’ve seen is saving, and not because they don’t want to save, but because they can’t see the person they’re saving for. If you’re saving for retirement, for a 65-year-old, a 30- or 25-year-old, they can’t see that person yet.
Q: What have you learned from this job so far?
A: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that a huge part of my job is psychological. I thought it was just numbers and giving them a plan. But you really have to understand your client and their emotions behind their spending and what’s important to them and what money means to them.
Q: Did you learn about money in school?
A: Absolutely not. I learned about money because my parents passed at a young age, so I had no fail-safe. So whenever I had money, I had to really really know how to use it because it wasn’t coming often. That’s what got me into a constant understanding of money.
Q: What’s your advice for people with student loans?
A: Know how many you have and where they all are. The average student loan debt right now in 2018 is like $40,000 per student, so my first piece of advice is if you don’t have to take them out, do whatever you can not to. But if you have them, have a log of them. Know which ones are private, which are public, and don’t let any of them ever get delinquent or default.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I love to go to the gym. I don’t know if people think that’s fun. But I love playing sports, basketball, football, everything. Working and working out is kind of just what I do on a regular basis.
(Article written by Hailey Mensik)