Members of Generation Y are fundamentally less trusting, more inclined to do their own research and more insistent on mobile technologies for everything - including their financial planning and investing. This is according to a new white paper that urges planners to get to know Gen Y better by comparing it to the two generations that preceded it: Generation X and the Baby Boomers.
"[P]eople tend to market and sell financial services in the same way they like to buy them," say the authors of the new paper co-published by Wells Fargo affiliate First Clearing Correspondent Services and Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer of the Austin-based Center for Generational Kinetics, which studies generational trends. But, they point out, "each generation buys differently."
For example members of Generation X, born between about 1965 and 1977 and between two massive generations, tend to feel they don't receive enough positive attention, the authors write. They were raised in an era of broken promises with high divorce rates, corporate layoffs and public scandals.
"As a result they are known for being skeptical," according to the authors. "Their 'actions-speak-louder-than-words' attitude conflicts with Gen Y's much-publicized optimism and trust for all things Wikipedia."
The takeaway: Gen X will want to know where planners got their data while Gen Y will want to see that data in an animated video on YouTube.
Like their clients, most planners are Boomers themselves with their "pay-your-dues, work-hard mentality," the authors found. This conflicts with Gen Y's expectation of fast results: from quick promotions to rapid investment returns.
The takeaway: Boomer planners must find a way to connect as a trusted advisor to Gen Y clients, rather than risk being equated to their parents, according to the paper. Keep in mind that Gen Y is lifestyle driven and its members believe their identity kicks in after work, the authors say.
"Baby Boomers have experience weathering multiple market cycles, so they are generally familiar and comfortable with long-term investment strategies," according to the authors. "Gen Y, on the other hand, has very little market experience, and their instant gratification mindset, makes it harder for them to see the long-term investment picture."