For decades, client engagement was about understanding life stages - specifically, the differences between the baby boomers and the World War II generation. As the demographics have shifted, ushering in Gen X and Gen Y, new needs and expectations of a new three-generation marketplace have become more complex. They also have presented new challenges as well as opportunities for financial advisors.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, Gen X and Gen Y clients, as well as younger baby boomers, can't count on defined benefits plans that offer both income and predictability. Surveys indicate that younger Americans perceive Social Security's future as dubious. Moreover, the recent economic downturn pummeled their savings more so than that of workers over 50 years old. Given the shift to far more individual responsibility in financial planning, uncertain economic conditions combined with increasing longevity, today's financial services client needs advice and engagement more than any previous generation. Unfortunately, few invest the time to participate in employer-sponsored seminars or even answer the mail sent by either their financial advisors or their 401(k) plan managers.

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