Patrick Biggs, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley
Patrick Biggs is a Financial Advisor and founding member of The RBK Group at Morgan Stanley. As a recently married millennial, he is intimately familiar with the milestones his peers are navigating and is committed to delivering highly customized financial advice and investment solutions to meet his clients' needs. Patrick sees an enormous opportunity for the wealth management industry to adopt a hybrid model that combines human touch with the latest technology. As our Millennial Maker, he touches on topics including how digital solutions are disrupting money management, the importance of saving habits, and his advice for millennials on establishing financial independence.
What inspired you to become a Financial Advisor and what advantages have you experienced as a millennial advisor?
I joined Morgan Stanley in 2011 and held various roles in the Wealth Management corporate division. From the beginning, I was completely fascinated with the Financial Advisor role and the magnificent responsibility it entailed of being the steward for a person’s financial future. I would spend countless hours educating myself about Morgan Stanley’s platform and developing a view of what I thought the future of Wealth Management would look like in an ever-changing digital and regulatory world. In March 2015, I was finally fortunate enough to become a founding member of a Financial Advisor team called The RBK Group at Morgan Stanley, a multi-generational team located in New York City.
I think one of the biggest advantages of being a millennial Financial Advisor is that I have only ever operated in a post-2008 wealth management world so transformational change, whether on the regulatory or digital front, is an expected component of the business. As a millennial Financial Advisor, you learn to view change as an opportunity.
As a financial services professional, what are some of the key financial challenges you see millennials facing today and how can our generation start planning for the future?
I think a major challenge facing millennials is this misguided notion that I hear so often, “Well, I am young therefore I can take significant risk in the market,” disassociating the risk of the portfolio with their broader life goals. In reality, when you’re younger and building wealth for imminent life goals (e.g., paying for a wedding, buying a home), the margin of error is actually very small and therefore you need to adjust your portfolios to fit within those risk/reward parameters. In dealing with millennial clients daily, our team stresses the importance of early financial planning which can include things like budgeting, understanding your credit score, or the difference in asset allocation for portfolios earmarked to fund short term goals like buying a home versus long term goals such as retirement. These concepts can then evolve over time to more sophisticated planning tools such as gifting, insurance, and estate planning.
You've spoken about the influence of digital solutions in the past. How do you believe these innovations are influencing the need (or lack thereof) for a human advisor and how are you shifting your model to compete with these alternate solutions?
I truly believe the most successful model is one that combines the best aspects of a technology-driven approach with the human advice-driven model into one seamless client experience. As we spend more time working with clients, not just millennials, during these ever frequent macro market events (e.g., Brexit) and major personal life events (e.g., new child, sale of a business) my conviction of the success of this type of model only increases. Clients’ daily tasks such as reviewing investment performance, depositing checks, or transferring money will continue to evolve to an almost exclusively digital setting, but when major decisions need to be made or evaluated, a client will still want to turn to a trusted advisor.
I currently serve on Morgan Stanley's Digital Advisory Council, a forum used to help the management team define the Firm’s Digital strategy and the long-term corresponding initiatives to capitalize on it. I am incredibly excited about the digital tools the Firm is developing to enhance the client experience, increase the efficiency of our Financial Advisors, and explore new channels for connecting with clients.
I truly believe the most successful model is one that combines the best aspects of a technology-driven approach with the human advice-driven model into one seamless client experience.
Financial services can come off as intimidating to a generation with very little formal education on personal finance. Can you recommend any resources for millennials on how to start educating themselves on money management?
Never before has a generation had more access to information through the proliferation of the internet and smart devices, but in my opinion, access doesn’t necessarily translate into education. It’s a fascinating dichotomy to be the generation with the most access to information, yet potentially be the least informed.
This creates a compelling opportunity for true, objective thought leaders to gain the mindshare of millennial clients. Recently, Morgan Stanley has overhauled its website to, along with other enhancements, create a forum for people to educate themselves on different financial topics. Information on topics such as The Millennial’s Guide to a Sweet Retirement, Millennial Home Buying, College Savings, Impact Investing, or the Importance of Portfolio Rebalancing is accessible to anyone with the ability to connect with a Financial Advisor for more information at the bottom of each article. It’s the optimal digital and human model in action!
What piece of financial advice do you wish you had received when you first started out your career?
As cliché as this sounds, the piece of advice I wish I had received would be to “start early”. Start early could apply to a variety of financial topics from monthly budgets, to activities to increase one’s credit score, to starting an initial investment account and dollar cost averaging as new money comes in over time. It’s really never too early to start thinking about your financial goals, but it’s also never too late to begin the process either.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your financial goals, but it’s also never too late to begin the process either.
What are you are currently saving for?
A first home with my wife.
Words to live by?
Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.
- Robert Kennedy
Patrick Biggs is a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in New York. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC offers insurance products in conjunction with its licensed insurance agency affiliates.