Banker’s son inherits financial advice

October 19, 2018 | GET MORE : Future of Banking

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A look at generational differences in financial planning through the perspectives of a father and son.

Mark Jordahl rarely makes eye contact during his first meeting of the day. 

His eyes, appropriately, are instead on the road as he carpools to work with his son, Andy. 

As president of Wealth Management at U.S. Bank, Mark is charged with leading several thousand employees who provide financial planning advice. On their 15-minute daily commute since Andy joined the bank as a commercial banking trainee earlier this year, Mark has been taking advantage of an opportunity to do just that. 

“We actually didn’t talk about money too much growing up, but that’s really changed since graduating from college,” said Andy. “You have your first job and you kind of want to enjoy your money… then Dad starts talking about 401(k)s.”

Maxing out the bank’s matching 401(k) contribution has been among the primary advice Andy said he got from Mark, as well as to budget and build up savings. The overarching theme, he said, boils down to “living within my means.”

That philosophy is a generational staple of the family. 

“Growing up, my dad was a music teacher and my mom had stayed at home,” Mark said. “We made a dollar go a long way.”

By observing his parents’ habits, Mark learned the outsize importance of sound judgment when it comes to financial planning. Today as a banker, he channels that and family values such as trust and integrity into his work. 

He sees his team’s roles as those of coaches – people with technical expertise and an ability to “motivate positive action” (such as convincing a 23-year-old to save for retirement, for example).

Andy is in the minority when it comes to retirement saving. A February 2018 report by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that 66 percent of people between the ages of 21 and 32 have nothing saved for retirement.

Mark explained a factor contributing to the trend. “I came up in a generation, Boomers, for which the stock market has done very well. Millennials and Gen Z, however, have seen significant volatility. But if you wait too long to start investing, you’ll likely regret not taking full advantage of the power of compounding.”

Conservative bent aside, though, Mark said that the digitization of personal finance is opening doors for beginning investors and creating demand for tools that enable do-it-yourself financial planning.

U.S. Bancorp aims to reach these investors through Automated Investor, a new offering exclusively through U.S. Bancorp Investments. The platform combines an easy-to-use digital interface with access to the company’s wealth management professionals. (Mark also noted, in an interview with American Banker, that he expects the platform to be popular among more established, older investors.)

The bank also recently launched Financial IQ, a digital hub with financial education resources spanning from budgeting tips for dog owners to investing tips for fantasy footballers. And access to professionals is just a call away, or a click in the bank’s online appointment scheduling tool.

When paired with digital tools, the human touch can be a competitive advantage for U.S. Bancorp compared to apps that, in some cases, don’t even list a customer service phone number.

“Investing is serious business, and many customers appreciate being able to talk with an expert in the moments that matter most,” Mark said. 

And in Andy’s case, that expert just happens to be his dad.

“[Financial advice aside], it’s just awesome seeing each other every day,” said Andy. 

Financial advice not aside, coaching Andy is familiar territory for Mark – and he’s confident in his son. 

“I think back to my days coaching youth hockey,” he said. “Andy always saw the ice so well.”

Story by Pat Swanson and photos by Jennifer Wendt of U.S. Bank.