On the final day of LIMRA’s 2011 conference, during a morning breakout session in the Hilton in midtown Manhattan, Ronald Leopold, MD from MetLife and Mammen G. Verghis from Prudential Financial began their workshop, Opportunities with Generations X and Y.
I was looked at as a specimen by Boomers in the room; constantly shooting me glances after a point was made to see if my facial expression was granting validation. I was stoic so not to influence anyone’s perceptions.
Research had been done, surveys taken, and strategies were poised to be implemented. It was a surreal experience; I felt like a fish listening to seasoned fishermen explain what bait works the best.
Both gentlemen were spot on about the disposition of Gen X and Gen Y though not everything should be taken as gospel. The point was made that Gen X and Gen Y were aware that they may not live as well as their parents, which is true, but I would chalk it up to a general awareness when it comes to the dour state of the economy, which is unavoidable. This was not the thought before the recession (even though most figured Social Security is a goner). When things improve, that pessimism will evaporate.
Gen X and Gen Y being labeled as “financially responsible” may be one of the biggest fallacies being propagated. Selling to us will be a serious issue if this is given credence. As a generation we need to be educated on the value of financial planning, and it should be parsed in a practical, realistic manner so that the implications may be well understood.
Selling to this generation online will help, but we need to know why these products are a necessity, why they are conservative investment and why life insurance, for example, is a better bet than playing online poker or investing in the next internet start up. The web and social media may be the way we like to communicate with friends and buy t-shirts but it is not necessarily the way we expect to buy a product that will be safeguarding the future of our family. Some do, but not all. It’s more complicated than that.