Embracing technology enthusiastically isn’t just a matter of attracting younger clients and employees—it could be an existential necessity.

The need for advisors to continuously upgrade their client and employee experience through technology was driven home by four speakers across three different sessions during the second day of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors’ 2019 Fall Conference in Chicago.

“Generation X and Generation Y, the millennials, are now 60% of the workforce—and the workforce drives where things are heading,” said Steve Crawford, founder of Experience Wealth, an Australian wealth advisor focused on Generation X and millennials, in one of the presentations. “Can you predict the future, look at where we’re at and figure out where we’re heading? This is who we’re building stuff for.”

When millennials embrace new technology, Generation X will soon adopt it, said Crawford. Then baby boomers and older Americans eventually adapt. Thus, technology that is pioneered by a young generation eventually becomes normalized for older generations. Crawford points out that older Americans are now comfortable with maintaining social relationships across platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and shopping via Amazon.

An even younger generation now entering the workforce, dubbed Generation Z by Ryan Jenkins, author of The Millennial Manual, threatens to upend things even further. By 2025, three out of four workers globally will be millennials or Generation Zers, he said—and their demands on services will increase exponentially.

“You and I are working across four generations today: In the very near future, we’ll be working across five, six or seven generations,” Jenkins said. “The generational tensions will only intensify moving forward.”

Both Crawford and Jenkins pointed to Uber as a harbinger of things to come. In just 10 years, ride-sharing services have changed the way Americans think about transportation, especially in densely populated urban areas.

While Americans were accustomed to the long waits and questionable customer service that came with riding in taxis, Uber delivered a convenient, seamless experience, often at a lower price point, than other forms of transportation.

“For emerging generations, that effortless and seamless experience that they’re experiencing is becoming an expectation that is rippling faster and faster, creating new clients, employees and leaders,” said Jenkins.

To keep up, financial advisors have to think deeply about the client experience in their own firms, said Trevor Chuna, chief technology officer for Sequoia Financial Group.

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