Boomers, Gen X, Millennials: 5 Ways to Avoid Generational Warfare

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By Frank Holmes

In the next decade, billions of dollars in assets will be passed onto the children and grandchildren of baby boomers.

In parallel to this wealth shift is a generational shift in the advisory firm workplace as millennial advisors enter the wealth management business. How to successfully manage the generational mix with different priorities, attitudes, communication styles and work ethics? The answer lies within understanding each other’s needs.

At this point, members of the workforce typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers represent a large portion of the retiring workforce. They are also the most sizable generation, amounting to 76 million, with attitudes and values shaped by events such as the Vietnam War and Space Exploration. They’re socially conscious, with a tendency to see possibility and opportunity.
  • Gen X: Born between 1965 and 1980, with about 55 million of them in the U.S., Generation X represents three in four government workers, and about three in five private wage and salary workers. It is the smallest of the generations in the workforce and is bookended by two generations that have been thoroughly studied. This generation has been shaped by events such as the rise of mass media and personal electronics, as well as the end of the Cold War.
  • Millennials. Born between 1981 and 1997, and with 66 million members, the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, forming 25 percent of the workforce now and slated to be 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. This generation was “born digital” and has attitudes shaped by events such as 9/11.

To be sure, everyone is an individual, and just because a trait is common throughout a generation doesn’t mean it always applies to a specific person. That said, there are a number of stereotypes that do tend to apply to the specific groups.

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