From the April 2011 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Generation G

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library

This past weekend I peaked into the future. I didn’t mean to; it just sort of happened. By some freak of nature, I was allowed to be the proverbial fly on the wall at what I can best describe as a slumber party of 12-year-old boys. While only two kids slept at my house, there were at least a dozen more of them coming and going — all on computer video chats. At one point I was afraid to move because I didn’t want to get caught. Thankfully, I was wearing my camouflage pajamas.

I’ve been through this sixth-grade thing before with my son’s two older brothers. The older two, however, would have never let me get this close to one of their private chat fests — and believe me I tried. My youngest is the smartest and he doesn’t care. He sees how worn down I am from the other two.

He knows I’m no threat. He’s throwing dad a bone.

As I quietly sat on the other side of the living room, I had a side view of the computer screen, my son and his friend. I could also see the other boys but they couldn’t see me. For what seemed like hours, screens of 12-year-old boys were popping in and out. Some bizarre prepubescent matrix had simultaneously connected sleepovers all across Connecticut and my kid was proud to be part of the gang.

Let me start by saying that I’ve talked to these kids many times before. What I heard that night didn’t sound like anything I had heard before. It was like they had their own language. Oh sure, I recognized some of the words — the dirty ones.

The rest of their language was a combination of wildly flailing arms, gangster rap songs and surprisingly — attempts at hip-hop dance moves. Some might argue they were simply preparing for next year’s busy bar mitzvah season. I think it is more of a tectonic culture shift in our youth, and therefore our future.

My two older boys were a bit ahead of this trend, so the signs of their culture shift is not as pronounced. The only clue they unwittingly show is their baggy pants — with no belt — that proudly shows off their Burberry boxers. Wow. The last thing I wanted at that age (or this one) was anyone seeing me in my underwear.

So what does all this scientific data have to do with being a financial advisor? Savvy financial advisors will consider catering to this Generation G. After all, these are the people that are inheriting all that wealth created by us crafty baby boomers.

Based on my observations, I think I can help. In order to successfully cater to this generation you’re going to need to do several things:

  1. Memorize and be able to recite the lyrics to at least 3 Jay Z songs. If you’re having difficulty with this one, first try memorizing something more comfortable like, Vanilla Ice’s Ice, Ice, Baby.
  2. Change your wardrobe. Generation G will want their advisors to be attired appropriately. Look for Brooks Brothers to develop suit pants that hang to mid thigh and have no belt loops. Underwear selection will be paramount.
  3. Add some bling. A few well placed gold chains, diamond earrings and nose rings will go a long way in establishing your street cred. Advisors in New York and New Jersey are ahead of the curve on this one.

If you can weave all of the above components together and you have a life expectancy of at least 30 years, you are set for a bright future as a financial advisor. When it comes to Generation G, trust me, the future is not only bright… it has a good beat and is easy to dance to.

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