Should we be surprised that 36% of millennials still use “manual” tools (e.g., pen/paper and excel spreadsheets) to manage their finances?

Given recent market volatility, is it any wonder that 73% of Gen X Americans worry about their financial future more now than ever before?

When 88% of affluent Americans say they want a personalized digital financial experience, what do they mean?

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Jason Dorsey, President of the Center for Generational Kinetics, called “Generational Differences: The Keys to Unlocking Americans’ Complicated Financial Relationships.” It was hosted by the Money Management Institute (MMI), a leading voice for global financial services organizations. The webinar provided an opportunity to explore the research that went into our white paper, “The Intelligent Financial Life: The Unexpected Intersection Between Technology, Clarity, and the Human Connection,” a first-of-its-kind deep-dive into clients’ attitudes toward financial advice, technology, and behaviors, spanning multiple generations.

Here’s a quick look at some of the topics we discussed:

What do we mean when we talk about living an Intelligent Financial Life™?

The Intelligent Financial Life is a solution to investors’ stress and confusion about money. It is a way to connect their daily financial lives with their long-term goals through an ecosystem of data-driven advice, solutions, intelligence, and technology.

What are some of the key characteristics of the generations most advisors connect with day-to-day?

The number one thing that Jason stressed at the beginning of our conversation is that generations are clues, not definitive boxes. You’ll see that there are some distinct differences across the generations, particularly in how they relate to technology, but those are just insights we can use as we work together, learn more about each other and our clients.

Millennials span ages from late 20s to early 40s and form the largest percentage of the workforce today. We often talk about how they are having a “delayed adulthood,” meaning they hit some milestones like owning a home later than other generations have historically. This is not necessarily negative, just different! We also noted that this group is more than tech savvy, they are actually technology dependent in how they function in the world.

In contrast, Gen X is well into their 40s and 50s. They are being pulled in multiple directions every day – raising families, caring for aging parents, and managing their careers. Their careers are particularly important right now as they assess how/where they want to spend their last few decades working and as employers struggle to retain them. Combining all of these factors, Gen X is at a very critical stage of their financial lives.

Baby Boomers have the most work and life experience of the generations we looked at. Most are at or beyond retirement age and they control the vast majority of the wealth in the U.S. According to recent data from the Federal Reserve, Boomers hold roughly 51.4% of the nation’s wealth compared to 28.7% held by Gen X and 5.8% held by Millennials.1 It is important to note that what works best for Baby Boomers, looking at everything from the way they like to be communicated with to the support that they need, is often a turn off for Millennials. The two groups are very different.

In the webinar, we examine these groups, how they engage with technology, and how they think about their financial lives.

How does the digital world play into what clients want from their advisor?

The data shows us two things. First, all generations want to work with a human advisor, rather than digital-only options. They want the connection and the expertise. But second, the data shows us that all generations want some level of digital support and access. Advisors today really need to be working in both ways, leveraging the dynamic tools available to them.

Clients are seeking clarity – we found that 50% of Americans don’t know where to start when it comes to getting their personal finances in order. To help get the conversation started, we define in this webinar what Americans mean when they say they want a “personalized digital experience” and how advisors can address that today.

If you weren’t able to join us live, click and register here to access a recording of our conversation. We learned a lot of valuable insights that may impact how you do business moving forward.

Envestnet is Fully Vested in connecting people’s daily lives with their long-term goals. That’s what we mean when we talk about helping others to live an Intelligent Financial Life. Find other tools and resources at


The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.

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