Firing line  

'When I speak with teenagers, I assume the worst'

'When I speak with teenagers, I assume the worst'
Jessica Ayres, Timothy James & Partners

Financial adviser Jessica Ayres has been helping teenagers and students get to grips with the fundamentals of finance for several years now.

Part of the reason behind this is the memory of how she would have benefited from the right kind of financial advice when she turned 18. 

However, the chartered financial planner, who works for Timothy James & Partners, said: "Sadly, I did not get any professional financial advice. I would have liked it."

Ayres, whose approach to holistic financial advice for her clients is to offer a free coaching session to older teenagers and those young people who will ultimately be the recipient of an inheritance or trust fund, said it is important to remember what it is like to be young.

"Too often we get it wrong in our industry. We speak in ways that can often shut down conversations with young people.

"For example, young people now are hearing about cryptocurrency and have seen finfluencers on TikTok and they are asking questions about this. If we immediately shut down conversations and are dismissive, this can be counterproductive. 

"We need to change the way in which we have that dialogue when we talk to young people."

Ayres said if she had been given financial advice back when she was 17, that advice would have had to be relevant to her and what she was interested in.

"At the time I was very idealistic. I was all about animal welfare, ending homelessness, changing the world. 

"So if someone had said to me 'would you like to buy a house? I can help you save towards that', it would not have been on my radar."

Instead, she would have liked someone to tell her how she could invest in ways that can help the environment, or to learn how saving money can lead to philanthropy. 

"I wish I had been told some of these things before. So remembering this, I always try to see things from the young person's point of view.

"I assume the worst, in a sense. That is, I assume they have very little knowledge and their financial viewpoint is going to be very different from mine."

Organic conversations

So what do the young people she speaks to want?

"Well they are worried already about money. They are worried about student debt. They are concerned about paying their way. They also naturally want to have a good time - they're young, after all."

"When I speak with them the conversations just evolve and you can get a good understanding of where the young person is coming from," she said. 

Her conversations with the children and grandchildren of her clients "developed organically", she explained, as a result of the holistic financial planning she does with parents and grandparents.