As we are beginning to feel the effects of an economic upswing once again, investment advisors are developing social adaptations to effectively service three distinct market groups. Forward thinking estate planning advisors have to prepare in advance for proper communication and doing business with these three generations as their concerns and values differ remarkably from one another.
The First Market Group – Baby Boomers
Of course, the first group has been investing for a long while. Most registered investment advisors worked with this generation’s financial needs and future concerns specifically. They never really saved enough in case of a “rainy day” –these are the “Baby Boomers,” born from 1946 to 1964. They are characterized as the “sandwich generation,” because they are caring for their elderly relatives while still trying to contribute to their children’s or grandchildren’s financial well-being.
As a group, this generation likes to spend money, tends to be too trusting of established institutions and grew up in a society that believed anything was possible if you were willing to work hard and had some initiative. In spite of experiencing deep losses in their financial expectations – from declining home/property values, the stock market crash and high unemployment just at their time of life they needed to advance – most are still optimistic about financial recovery.
These optimistic expectations continue even though this generation faces loss of their inheritances due to their parent’s longer life spans, extended healthcare expenses and assisted living arrangements. Re-educating this generation on estate planning is usually focused on helping clients to understand that a legal will and testament is not sufficient to provide for their families. We must help them embrace the total concept of a living trust package to protect their wealth from probate, helping their heirs with a smoother transition of funding, while at the same time, teaching them that a trust can protect against dwindling funds due to nursing home care and other creditor spend downs.
The Next Generation – the Beginning of Electronic Communications
If we want to educate adult generation-Xers (born between 1965 and 1981) about financial investments and the importance of estate planning for their children and grandchildren, as registered investment advisors we need to have a whole different box of tools from when we work with the Baby Boomers.
There was political unrest, an unpopular war and the mood was less optimistic. Both parents had to work to stay ahead or families were caught in the upswing divorce rate and historically more than ever, kids were growing up in one-parent households. In all financial backgrounds, children were growing up as latchkey kids, while parents were desperately trying to do the best they could.
Generation X-ers watched TV after school as the media played out disasters of the world, political upheaval and civil disorder. As a whole, this group learned distrust and skepticism, relied heavily on friends and computers for information, and were not interested in institutional credibility.
Because this generation lost the most in net worth and home equities, they learned not to rely on long-term investing and to avoid the stock market. They typically have not invested for their retirements and sometimes dabble in short-term investments of six-months to 1-year durations.
In order to gain the trust of generation-X adults, financial equity management planners have to be able to demonstrate that we can readily use mobile apps and online tools. As opposed to Baby Boomers who prefer telephone conversations and feel emails are too impersonal and casual, gen-Xers prefer instant messaging, texting and email communications in order to stay regularly updated regarding business.
Very Different from the First Two Generations: The Millennials
Millennials are the generation born from 1982-2000; these young adults currently make up 30 percent of the population of the United States. They are concerned with the meaningful use of their time, they want to understand ways to better their world and take part in doing something meaningful with their lives. This generation has little respect for authority but seek rules and morality in their own way. They are under the constant influence of their friends and peers, using mobile electronic devices to stay in constant contact.
One term often used to describe this group is “Mosaic Thinkers.” They take parts of a large flux of information and combine it into their own understanding for decision making and forming their own opinions. They do not rely on reports of authority to formulate their ideas and attitudes.
To educate these thinkers, we’ll need to be accountable with them and show them exactly what they can expect from an investment. Because they tend to have good relationships with their parents, having their approval is helpful. Millennials look for accountability and are concerned with investing in green industry, green and ecologically conscious construction and manufacturing.
Whatever their generational background, all clients must feel that their private wealth managers are acclimating themselves to their ways of thinking in order to provide the most effective advice and service.