Talking to Twentysomethings

Because “401(k)″ is likely not being renamed any time soon, advisers might need to find more effective ways of getting around opaque financial terms with the new breed of American workers.

Generation Y and the Baby Boomers do not hold many water cooler conversations, according to the most recent workplace study by employment services company Randstad USA. A survey of 3,494 adults says that 51% of Boomers report having little to no interaction with their younger co-workers. As Baby Boomers retire, their knowledge might not be transferring to the younger generation, who communicate differently than their older counterparts.

Research from Mintel suggests that the financial industry might not be effectively communicating in order to capture the potentially lucrative group of twentysomethings that make up a huge segment of the population (see Y Not?). Although the 78.5 million Baby Boomers nearing, and in, retirement are the obvious focus of the retirement industry right now, the 79.8 million members of Generation Y comprise an even larger market.

The report says Generation Y (considered in this survey to be born between 1980 to 1988) is probably changing the face of global business in the most dramatic way since women entered the workplace back in the years before Boomers were born. The study characterizes Generation Y as unwilling to live by the old-school rules, even more so than Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979).

That is even evident in the financial advising industry. Younger advisers are increasingly more attracted to different segments of the field, opting for more independent routes than traditional wirehouses, according to a recent Cerulli Associates report (see Recruiting Young Advisers Requires Less Traditional Approach).

The different outlook of younger workers might require different financial education. Selling to this younger generation could be difficult simply because of the wording of products. The report says Generation Y requires clear and direct communication styles—not explanations littered with jargon, acronyms, and “spin-doctoring.”

To view the full 2008 World of Work report, go here.