Nothing is ever easy. It seems like every time you get used to doing things one way, you're forced to redefine and adapt. And along with the changes in the political landscape, economic environment, product offerings and regulatory requirements, FAs are changing as well.
Baby boomers, the 77 million americans born between 1946 and 1964 are getting older and starting to retire. In fact, between 7,000 and 10,000 will hit 65 every day for the next 18 years! And it's not just clients. For program managers, thousands of bank advisors are boomers and they are also starting to retire, leaving the void to be filled by younger generations of FAs-Gen X and Gen Y. (In fact, there are some from the "silent generation"-people born before 1945-working in bank programs so it's possible for a program manager to have four generations of FAs working together.)
This means having not only a well-defined plan to recruit and replace these retiring FAs, but also understanding the next generation and what motivates them. For program managers, there is no real secret to managing each generation. It is still all about communication-taking time to listen, give constructive feedback and understand the implications of your actions. Good managers know that a one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to fail. All people are different, with different values and perspectives. Adapting your management style to better "fit" each FA will always achieve better results.
That said, there are also some strong similarities within demographic groups, so here is a rundown of general profiles for each generation and some management tips for each.
Most FAs and program managers are still from the Boomer generation. Boomers value success and are very goal-oriented. They tend to have a positive attitude and value individual choices and freedom. Because of the current economic environment, many have not adequately prepared for retirement. Even FAs may be postponing retirement since they spent so much on big homes, material possessions, and college tuition for their children. And this means that program managers may find themselves managing a much older workforce. Managing Boomer FAs can be difficult since they believe they already have the all knowledge and experience they need. Managers should respect what they bring to their programs and actively listen to what they have to say.
Gen X, those born between 1965 and 1979 have already firmly established themselves in bank programs both as managers and FAs. Children of the 60's and 70's, the key words for these FAs are balance, perspective and independence. They are more conservative than boomers, but at the same time they show less respect to authority figures. Because of this strong independent streak and a lower regard for authority, they tend to work best in smaller or decentralized organizations. This helps explain why they tend to have less loyalty to their employer. After all, they grew up in homes where their parents worked long hours only to see their jobs eliminated and downsized.
Program managers need to give Gen X advisors the tools they need and then get out of their way. They know they are responsible for their own actions and results. They don't want or expect the "organization" to make them succeed. Since they tend to be practical and somewhat cautious, they are always on the look-out for hype and overselling. So don't manage with lots of flash, drama or hyperbole.
The 80 million Gen Yers, also know as Millennials, were born between 1980 and 2000. These are the 20 somethings just out of college and now becoming FAs or moving up from sales assistant and junior rep programs. Gen Y advisors are very different from both Boomers and Gen Y. In general, they are confident and very social team-players. They celebrate diversity and, needless to say, are very comfortable with technology-41% have only a cell phone (no landline). Gen Y advisors are the ones who want flex time, someone to tell them what to do, and a comprehensive benefits package (and perhaps a guaranteed base salary). After all, it was their so-called "helicopter parents" who hovered over them and built their self-esteem to unprecedented levels. Gen Y loves being part of a team and wants a manager who pays attention to them. Gen Y is much less likely to pick up and move to another program or become an independent FA since they don't like the conflict it would create. Besides, they tend to lack the spark necessary to be entrepreneurs. The keys to managing Gen Y advisors are to make them feel special, appreciated and an important part of the team. And since appearance is important to them, publicly recognizing their achievements and giving them titles and awards are great ways to motivate them. Gen Y advisors tend to be followers and fairly non-competitive. After all, these are the kids who got trophies for just showing up! So, unlike both Boomers and Gen Xers, contests and challenges where they compete against others can be counter-productive.
Managing these disparate generations into a cohesive productive work unit presents unique challenges. The potential for conflict is considerable, but the potential for success is far greater if program managers recognize the differences and implement strategies that bridge the generational divides.