Who is going to buy the new Apple Watch? Short answer – the next-gens. They are known as Gen X and Y, can still read small print, and they’re younger than me. They are learning new technologies rapidly and integrating them into their lives. Their brains are different; they think different. There is much I can learn from the next-gens.
Quick tutorial: Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980. Gen Y was born between 1981 and 2000. Millennial is sometimes used to describe those coming into adulthood around the year 2000.
Learning from them is important because of the sleeping bear we call the transfer of wealth. We need to talk less about how big the bear is and more about what to do when it wakes up. We’re not prepared.
The pressing question may be who needs to get prepared – them or us – baby boomers or Gen X and Y. As the generations primed for the transfer, they lack tolerance for what baby boomers consider preparation. They will quickly tell us they’re ready and they have ideas. Could we just get on with it?
And there you have it. It’s those ideas that have us worried – parents, grandparents, advisers- we’re all feeling some angst. In the on-line magazine, Wealth Management.com, an article titled “How the Other Half Gives: Engaging Today’s Wealthy,” author April Rudin reminds advisers the opportunity at hand is to grow old along with young clients who are living longer.
What’s wrong with that ominous reminder? It’s a veiled insult to the rising generations that offer an opportunity to continue to grow and learn right alongside them. This opportunity should be listed in the top tips for staying young: eat more fruits and vegetables, keep moving physically and learn from the next generation.
We need to forge a new partnership with this generation. I’m calling it a new partnership because it’s time to grant them equal footing. We need to respect their unique perspective.
In a recent conversation I crashed into the wall of a Gen Y perspective. It is different from mine. My justification for why a donor might fund an after-school project was not just at all. The twenty-something had already gained experience in a similar program and had a different definition of success. It wasn’t wrong, definitely different.
Gen X is inspired by the “doing well while doing good” concept according to Rudin. They engage socially across many levels leading to complex relationships, a key to their minds, hearts and pocketbooks. They’re wired differently and I believe they are willing to teach me.
Here’s my challenge:
Advisers: Identify five next-gens to engage in learning conversations. Make it a point to ask questions and listen. Take notes. After all five conversations reflect on one or two key points you learned. Then re-start your next-gen relationships.
Parents: Start a conversation with your kids about how they view any coming transfers of wealth – any coming transfers at all. Are they interested, what would they do with it, why and how? If you’ve already done your estate planning consider revisiting your plan. Share with your legal adviser what you learned about the thoughts and motivations you heard. Some changes might be warranted.
Grand-parents: You hold a special place for next-gens. You may be among the few they are open to learn from right now, so share your experiences. But in those conversations keep in mind that you can learn more from them than just how to program the DVD player. Encourage their ideas and challenge their thinking. One final note, if your grandchildren are included in your estate planning you might want to read the Parent section again and revisit your own estate plan.
The Rest of Us: We need to keep our eyes and ears open for what we can learn. We need to invite them into discussions, listen and make notes.
How about your next-gens. What are you learning from them?