By Cam Marston

They say you can never stop learning. If you’re a financial adviser, you should strive to prove that theory.

One of the important things we need to keep re-learning is how different generations prefer to handle their money — or even different subsets within the same generation.

Many advisers, for instance, may think they know all there is to know about Baby Boomer clients. Many advisers are Baby Boomers themselves.

But there are important differences to consider even within the Baby Boomer generation. While many leading boomers, born from 1946 to ’55, are already retired, trailing boomers who were born between 1956 and ’64 are still winding down their careers – putting kids through college, downsizing into a smaller home and starting to think about where they’ll retire.

Obviously, these two groups have different financial needs. They also have differing preferences.

Leading boomers grew up with the moon landing and the Summer of Love, giving many of them the optimistic outlook that anything is possible. Hard work is the path toward turning dreams into reality, leading these boomers to become known as the “workaholic” generation.

But while many of them have attained a level of status, with the material wealth that comes with it, there are also many under the stress of debt. Many of them are also realizing that they should have done more to prepare for retirement.

Trailing boomers, while ambitious and competitive like their older brothers and sisters, are typically more pessimistic – similar to the skepticism of Generation X. Despite their hard work they are carrying even higher levels of debt than leading boomers did at their age – often due to not only rising college costs for their offspring, but the continued costs of helping their children financially after college.

Leading boomers seem ready to enjoy their retirement – and often unconcerned about leaving an inheritance. Many trailing boomers, meanwhile, don’t seem to be thinking about retirement at all. The youngest of them may be more than two decades away from leaving the workforce, and they aren’t yet making the plans necessary to ensure their financial independence.

There are big opportunities here for you as an advisor to make a real difference for people in either subset of this generation. But while you know that your leading boomer clients prefer a face-to-face meeting to an email, you don’t assume that your trailing boomer clients are necessarily the same.

In much the same way, don’t assume that their attitudes on retirement and their futures are going to be the same, either.


Category: Editorial