Meet the millennials

By Merge Gupta-Sunderji | December 1, 2008 | Last updated on December 1, 2008
3 min read

If any of your clients are parents or grandparents, you’ll be familiar with the one common subject they talk incessantly about—kids or grandkids. Whether it’s their son’s accomplishments, their daughter’s education, or their grandkids’ inheritance, your clients’ offspring tend to dominate the conversation.

Directly and indirectly, the millennials (those born between 1980 and 1994) exert a powerful infl uence on the lives of boomers and Gen-Xer adults. As an advisor, savvy about your growing practice, you are aware that these millennials could end up being future clients.

In order to appreciate the in- fl uence of millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, it’s important to look at the numbers.

In Canada, 6.5 million of them are growing toward adulthood. In terms of values, beliefs, skills and work ethic, they’re quite unlike their predecessors. Think about some of the 14-to-28-year-olds you know; they insist upon instant gratifi cation and have what many view as an unabashed sense of entitlement.

It’s not all bad news, though. This age group also possesses skills and strengths, in particular an uncanny ability to multi-task. Consider this scenario: Your long-time clients, Amy and Harold, have built a successful construction supplies business. But they’re in their fifties and would like to transition the active management of the company over to their daughters, both in their twenties. “I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do,” laments Amy. “The children just don’t have the same work ethic.”

Such concerns aren’t uncommon. But, as trusted advisors, it’s an opportunity for you and your clients to learn about building bridges, and a chance to help your Gen-X and boomer clients forge working relationships with Gen-Y.

In order to work more effectively with millennials, understand the influences and environments that shaped their values. For most, their childhoods were completely scheduled—registered for baseball camp, signed up for karate club, enrolled in dance lessons—leaving no unstructured free time.

They had helicopter parents who hovered and were actively involved in every aspect of their lives. This is also the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media. Since childhood they have had the ability to link up with people anywhere in the world, almost instantaneously, and 24/7.

Courting Millennial Clients In addition to being sensational multitaskers, millennials translate their ease with technology into a natural tendency toward creativity and inventiveness. They’re eager to step beyond the status quo, and willing (and ready) to rewrite the rules.

And therein lies their strength. This need to multi-task means they’re adaptable to change and rebound quickly to setbacks. Keep these points in mind when trying to develop committed relationships with the millennials:

• They’re determined to achieve worklife balance. Help them get there; • They see the world as accessible, 24/7. Make the tools available; • They’re cynical about slick marketing. Be purposefully honest; • They value peer recommendations, so ask for referrals once they trust you; • Don’t talk down to them; • Give them variety and structure; • Praise them. They’ve been praised every step of their lives and need frequent reinforcement.

Acquaint yourself with the characteristics of these nearly 6.5 million Canadians. It will not only help you with your clients, but help you appreciate the mark this generation will leave on every aspect of Canadian business—even yours.

Merge Gupta-Sunderji