Planners born before 1946 may be members of the so-called silent generation. They may stand three generations older than the rising Geneneration Y, but they are the demographic that Gen Y trusts the most, according to a new white paper,

"That explains why so many Gen Yers are so close with their grandparents and, rumor has it, why big box retailers will put folks the same age as Gen Y's grandparents at the front doors to serve as greeters," wrote the authors of the white paper titled "Gen Y is Ready to Invest . Are You Ready to Advise Them."

The paper is co-published by Wells Fargo affiliate First Clearing Correspondent Services and Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer of the Austin, Texas, based Center for Generational Kinetics, which studies generational trends.

Members of the silent generation can use this upfront trust to their advantage, the authors claim, while adding that no particular generation has a long-term advantage in building relationships with members of Gen Y. "Regardless of their generation, the financial professionals who consistently win Gen Y's business are those who are aware of their own generational attitudes and can adjust to how Gen Y wants to be attracted, retained and referred," they write.

The authors point to five areas where Gen Y differs from the previous three generations: the silent generation, the Baby Boomers and Gen X:

  • Gen Y communicates differently and relies on text messages much more than members of the other generations.
  • Gen Y is entering all the five different life stages, as identified by sociologists, at later ages than past generations. The stages include: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child.
  • The biggest criticism of Gen Yers is that, as products of helicopter parenting, they are entitled. As a result, Boomers in particular may feel that Gen Y doesn't have its priorities straight, and vice versa, leading to challenges to mutual understanding and respect.
  • Gen Y relies on online sources, including Facebook and YouTube, to do research before making any buying decisions - and that includes when they are researching a financial professional.