What’s the difference between a baby-boomer client and Generation Y client? No, this isn’t a set-up line for a joke, but it is an anecdote that sums up the generational differences financial advisors need to consider if they want to attract younger people who someday will supplant the boomer generation as clients.
Gen Y folks, said Cam Marston, founder of the consulting firm Generation Insights, were raised to think they’re special and unique, a mindset reinforced by participant awards handed out at summer camps, swim meets or other events where everybody gets a ribbon or trophy no matter how nondescript or poorly they performed.
“If you’re a baby boomer, were you as a child ever told you were special or unique from everyone else?” Marston asked the audience at a session today at the Investment Management Consultants Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas. “No, you never heard such a thing, and if you did it sounded something like this: ‘What’ya think you’re special or something?’ It was an accusation.”
Marston’s comment caused attendees—most of who appeared to be boomers, along with early-stage Gen X’ers—to erupt in laughter. But his message was a key takeaway for the audience.
“This has significance for the way you engage that baby-boomer client and their child who will receive an inheritance. It has significance in what you say about yourself to the public, organize your promotional material or even how you introduce yourself.”
Marston was a one-man panelist at a session devoted to how investment advisors can become gen-savvy as the financial advice business slowly transitions away from relying on boomers to trying to attract the mindshare and walletshare of younger generations who are coming up through the pipeline.
Much of his presentation dealt with delineating the different generations and parsing their attitudinal and expectation differences regarding how they see themselves, their place in the world and how they want to interact with wealth advisors.
Marston defines the main generational cohorts as the so-called matures, or silent generation (ages 70 and older); baby boomers (ages 51 and 69); Generation X (ages 36 through 50) and Gen Y, or millennials (ages 15 to 35). Bringing up the rear is the iGen, or Gen Z age bracket.
From a marketing perspective, Marston noted people in the mature and baby-boomer groups are interested in an advisor’s story and how it paints a picture of something that’s “safe and predictable”—i.e., where the advisor comes from, length of tenure, the history and name recognition of an advisor’s organization and its perceived quality.