Gen X, Gen Y … Gen D?

Have you heard of Generation D? I didn’t think so. But according to a recent report  from consulting firm Accenture, Generation D is an emerging and important investor segment of the market.

Cyril Tuohy of InsuranceNewsNet recently published some details of Generation D saying that both the financial crisis of 2008 and the rise of social media as a means to access investment advice have given rise to a different kind of investor, one that is skeptical of financial advisors.

So, who is Generation D? Generation D is not defined by traditional generational divisions but by their behavior. They are 75 million strong representing a cross-section of so-called Millennials (26%), Generation Xers (48%) and the Baby Boomers (25%).

Members of Generation D are less likely to view advisors as a trusted resource for investment advice than previous generations, the Accenture survey found. For example, a total of 59% of Gen D members actively sought advice recently but only 40% looked to their financial advisor for guidance.

Generation D represents 44% of the U.S. population with nearly $27 trillion in assets that will be passed on to heirs in the coming decades, but they are skeptical of the markets. Accenture was surprised at how conservative the Millennials are and how they equate investing in the market to gambling.

Millennials the Most Skeptical

Generation D skepticism toward financial institutions is most prevalent among the Millennials, with this group of 21- to 30-year-olds seeking information across multiple channels to confirm or corroborate investment advice.

While 71% of Generation D Millennials are currently investing, only 22% do so through an advisor, the survey found, and as many as 28% of Millennials would not take a financial advisor’s advice without first consulting another source.

Gen Xers, meanwhile, are as likely to be self-directed investors as they are to use a dedicated advisor, while Boomers still value a personal relationship with their advisors, the survey found.

While the LIFE Foundation does not deal with pure financial products, we do consider ourselves experts in the area of life insurance and related products. Our goal is to make these products easier to understand through digital resources, social media, motivational videos and blogs.

According to Accenture, members of Generation D are often more conservative and risk averse than many advisors give them credit for, and they are going to expect digital, online and mobile channels to be “seamlessly woven into the overall customer experience,” the report said.

The LIFE Foundation has anticipated these needs and provides the financial community a wealth of digital resources for consumers and for agents and advisors to use with these skeptical investors in the new digital world.

Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens

by Marvin H. Feldman

Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, is president of the Feldman Financial Group in Palm Harbor, Fla., and president and CEO of Life Happens. He is a 41-year Million Dollar Round Table member and was the 2002 president. He is a 33-year member of the MDRT Top of the Table and a past Top of the Table chairman. He also is the recipient of the 2011 John Newton Russell award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the insurance industry.

  1. Interesting post on how the different generations feel about investing! I suppose I am a generation d guy… I am pretty weary of how I invest every dollar I spend. I can say though I think everyone should have the best term life insurance they can afford, to protect themselves in the case of a bad investment, or when life throws the unexpected towards us!

  2. Other next gen donors agree with this philosophy, recently coined “impact investing.” As next generation major donors begin to control substantial financial resources – family, personal, and both – impact investing will likely increase.

  3. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was the baby boomer’s generational cry in the 1960s. Millennials are expressing a similar wariness toward financial advisors.

  4. Things haven’t been easy for the members of this generation almost since the day musician Kurt Cobain, one of their patron saints, died in 1994. They’ve known two U.S. wars, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, the financial crisis, and the lean years since, which coincided for many with their graduation from college and frustrating attempts to launch themselves into adulthood and careers.

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