The average age of a financial planner in the U.S. is nearly 51. With 43% over age 55, it’s hardly a youthful profession.
Then there’s Andrew Damcevski.
Damcevski, 24, is among the youngest planners in America with a CFP designation. He became a certified financial planner in March 2017 and co-founded a fee-only practice the following month.
As you might guess, Damcevski got an early start. As a University of Cincinnati sophomore in 2012, he listened raptly when a financial adviser addressed his finance class.
“He explained what he did every day, and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” Damcevski recalled.
Soon after, he attended a job fair and left his résumé at Northwestern Mutual’s booth. The Milwaukee-based financial services company promptly accepted the 19-year-old in its internship program.
For the rest of his college years, Damcevski’s extracurricular activity centered around Northwestern Mutual. He spent most Tuesdays and Thursdays on the job, eventually prospecting for clients and drafting financial plans.
By the time he graduated in 2015 (with a finance and marketing degree), he had passed his Series 7 and Series 66 exams and earned a license to sell insurance. He left Northwestern Mutual in early 2017 when he and a colleague, Devon Klumb, decided to start their own firm.
Damcevski knew his running start would help propel his success. When he and Klumb joined the XY Planning Network, an organization of fee-only financial advisers who specialize in working with Generation X and Generation Y clients, they were told to shoot for one to two new clients a month.
“But we cut our teeth at Northwestern Mutual by getting 40 to 50 clients a year,” Damcevski said.
Their Cincinnati-based firm, RhineVest, has no account minimums. In the last nine months, Damcevski says they’ve grown from 50 households and $5 million in assets under management to about 140 households and $15 million in assets under management.
He attributes their fast progress to three factors. Their aggressive marketing outreach and inviting website builds visibility; he gets referrals from a larger local firm, Truepoint Wealth Counsel, which acquired his startup last summer; and having the CFP designation.
“Many prospects tell me they’re looking for a fee-only CFP,” he said.
Damcevski says he spent two months studying four to eight hours a day to prepare for the CFP exam, taking a prep course offered by Zahn Associates. He had already been exposed to many of the concepts while learning the business at Northwestern Mutual.
“Failing the CFP test was not an option,” he declared.
In 2017, Damcevski was among the 69% of first-time test takers who passed the CFP exam. (The overall pass rate was 64%.)
He doesn’t trumpet his age—or Klumb’s age (25)—when marketing the firm. They focus on educating clients about the services they provide, and they team up when meeting prospects.
“A lot of them are shocked when they find out our age,” he said. “Once they’ve talked to us, I think they become comfortable with our philosophy around financial planning. We try to be as open and transparent as possible in explaining our fees, how we’ll work with them and how our investment portfolio is set up.”
He overcomes initial skepticism by assuring clients that he will grow along with them. Younger professionals like the idea of sticking with the same adviser for decades to come.
“We’ve had prospects who didn’t choose us,” he said. “But they never said it was because of our age. Maybe that was in the back of their mind, though.”