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Adapting your communication approach for different generations

This article will explore the most common communication preferences for the key generational cohorts that you will likely deal with as clients. It is worth remembering that although these preferences provide a general framework, individual clients may still have unique communication preferences. Being adaptable and open to learning from your interactions will help you to refine your approach over time.

Click the links below to see the specific preferences, or scroll down to read more.

Gen Z

Gen Y (Millenials)

Baby Boomer

Silent Generation

Gen Z

Born roughly between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z have grown up in a highly digital and interconnected world. To effectively communicate with Gen Z, Financial Advisers should consider using the following methods:

Digital Channels: Gen Z are extremely comfortable with technology and prefer digital communication channels. Utilise platforms like email, online chats and social media such as Instagram and Facebook to reach out to them.

Instant Messaging: Consider offering real-time chat options on your website or through messaging apps for quick and convenient communication.

Brevity and Clarity: Gen Z are used to content being fast paced, scrolling through 30 second videos on TikTok or 10 second snapchats mean they are used to getting information quickly. Keep your messages concise and to the point.

Visual Content: Incorporate visuals such as infographics, videos, and interactive content to convey financial concepts. Visual content is more engaging and easier to digest for this generation.

Mobile-Friendly: Ensure your website, emails, and other communication materials are mobile-responsive. Gen Z relies heavily on smartphones and tablets for accessing information.

Interactive Content: Engage Gen Z with interactive tools and calculators that allow them to explore financial scenarios and understand the impact of their decisions.

User-Generated Content: Share success stories or testimonials from peers or other Gen Z clients. They are more likely to trust recommendations from their peers.


Gen Y (Millennials)

According to new research from Forbes Advisor, 52% of millennials and Gen-Z (18-34-year-olds) are trying their hand at investing to hopefully make returns on their cash, this is more than any other age group. The study analysed British adults’ investment habits, revealing fewer than four in 10 (38%) of those aged 55-and-over invest despite being the wealthiest age group in the UK, and being nine times better off than the 30-34 age group.

With these figures, in order to futureproof your business, engaging Millennials is something that you want to be doing. But what is the best way to do this?

Digital Channels: Often referred to as being the first “online generation”, Millennials have grown up witnessing the technological rising. They have seen the online world go from dial up internet to 5G technology on smartphones and they are using this technology for their financial needs. With the ease of online technology, more millennials are taking preference for remote meetings and communication via email rather than face to face.

Remote Meetings: Offer virtual meetings as an option, especially for busy Millennials who may prefer the convenience of remote consultations.

Focus on interactive content: Similar to Gen Z, giving the option of interactive tools and calculators that allow them to explore financial scenarios and understand the impact of their decisions is also appealing to Millennials.

Values may become more important: The Millennial Generation places greater emphasis on family and personal values compared to earlier generations. They exhibit greater authenticity and heightened social awareness, as evidenced by 86% of Millennials expressing interest in sustainable investing. Consequently, they are less inclined to compromise their ethics in the pursuit of financial expansion. Instead, they seek investment prospects that align with their social, environmental, and political convictions.


Gen X

Gen X, often recognised as the bridge between the post-WW II Baby Boomers and the digitally native Millennials, encompasses a distinct cohort born approximately between 1965 and 1980. Emerging during a time of remarkable societal shifts and technological advancements, Generation X has forged a path marked by adaptability, resourcefulness, and a unique outlook on life.

Growing up against the backdrop of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the rise of personal computing, Gen X experienced a world in transition. They navigated the analogue and digital realms, witnessing the birth of the internet and the rapid evolution of communication technologies. This exposure to both the traditional and modern spheres has imparted Gen X with a pragmatic and versatile approach to life's challenges.

To effectively communicate with Gen X, consider the following strategies:

Balanced Approach: Gen X values a balanced and practical approach. Provide a mix of traditional and digital communication methods, such as in-person meetings, phone calls, and email.

Face-to-Face Meetings: Offer the option of face-to-face meetings, as Gen X tends to value personal connections and may find in-person interactions more reassuring.

Flexibility: Recognise the diverse lifestyles and responsibilities of Gen X, such as managing careers, raising families, and preparing for retirement. Be flexible in your communication schedule.

Long-Term Planning: Emphasise the importance of long-term planning and financial security, particularly as Gen X approaches retirement age.

Technology Adoption: While Gen X is comfortable with technology, they may not be as digitally immersed as younger generations. Offer user-friendly online tools and resources.

Retirement Focus: Understand that retirement planning is a significant concern for Gen X. Address their retirement aspirations and concerns in your communication.

Holistic Approach: Gen X often appreciates a comprehensive approach that takes into account various aspects of their financial life, such as saving for education, managing debt, and protecting assets.

Regular Updates: Keep Gen X clients informed about their financial progress and market trends through periodic updates and reports.


Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, often referred to as the "Baby Boom" generation, represent a significant and influential demographic cohort that emerged in the aftermath of World War II. Born roughly between the years 1946 and 1964, this generation witnessed a period of unprecedented societal, economic, and cultural transformation.

In the realms of personal finance, baby boomers face distinct challenges and opportunities, particularly in areas like retirement planning, estate management, and wealth transfer. As they transition into their retirement years, many baby boomers seek thoughtful financial guidance and strategies that align with their aspirations for a comfortable and fulfilling future.

Understanding the experiences and values of Baby Boomers is essential for effective communication and engagement, especially for professionals like Financial Advisers who aim to provide tailored support to this diverse and dynamic generation.

Baby Boomers are more likely to favour the below methods of communication:

In-Person Communication: Baby Boomers often appreciate face-to-face interactions. Offer in-person meetings or phone calls as a primary mode of communication.

Printed Materials: Provide printed materials, such as brochures, newsletters, and reports, as they may prefer tangible resources they can read and refer to at their leisure.

Detailed Information: Baby Boomers tend to value comprehensive and detailed information. Be prepared to provide thorough explanations of financial concepts and strategies.

Patience and Listening: Take the time to actively listen to their concerns, questions, and financial goals. Show genuine interest in their financial well-being.

Respect and Courtesy: Use formal and respectful language when communicating with baby boomers. Address them by their titles and last names, unless they indicate otherwise.

Privacy and Security: Assure baby boomers of your commitment to data privacy and security, given some may have concerns about technology.


Silent Generation

The Silent Generation, born between the years 1928 and 1945, is a remarkable cohort that emerged during a time of profound historical events and societal changes. This generation, often defined by its quiet resilience and steadfast determination, has left an indelible mark on the fabric of society, even as its contributions are sometimes overlooked amidst the broader narrative.

Growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression and during WW II, the Silent Generation experienced challenges that shaped their character and values. From rationing and sacrifice to witnessing the post-war reconstruction, they developed a sense of responsibility, hard work, and adaptability that defined their approach to life.

In the realms of financial advice acknowledging the resilience, wisdom, and contributions of the Silent Generation lays the foundation for meaningful partnerships. By appreciating their enduring values and desires, advisers can craft strategies that encompass retirement planning, estate management, and the preservation of their legacy. In doing so, we honour the contributions of the Silent Generation and ensure that their impact continues to resonate for generations to come.

Similar to the older ages of Baby Boomers, the preferences in ways you communicate with the Silent Generation is very much the same:

In-Person Interaction: Face-to-face meetings and personal interactions are highly valued by the Silent Generation. They appreciate the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and build rapport.

Formal Language: Use formal and respectful language, addressing them by their titles and last names, unless they indicate otherwise. Avoid overly casual or slang terms.

Written Communication: Send handwritten notes, letters, or cards to convey appreciation, updates, or important information. A physical, tangible piece of communication can carry more weight for this generation.

Clear and Concise: Present information in a clear and straightforward manner. Avoid jargon or complex terms. Provide detailed explanations when needed.

Phone Calls: Use phone calls to share updates, answer questions, and provide guidance. The human voice can establish a sense of connection and trust.

Printed Materials: Share printed materials, such as brochures or newsletters, that they can read at their leisure. The tangible nature of these materials can resonate with the Silent Generation.

Respect for Experience: Acknowledge their life experiences and wisdom. Avoid being overly prescriptive and respect their autonomy in decision-making.

Family Involvement: Recognise that family often plays a significant role in the lives of the Silent Generation. Consider involving family members in discussions or decisions when appropriate.

Sensitivity to Technology: While some members of the Silent Generation are comfortable with technology, others may not be. Ensure that any digital communication methods are user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Click here to read our guide to the importance of communicating effectively with multi-generational audiences