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Generation Z: Understanding, Advising This Wired Cohort

, Oak Group , 22 February 2021

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As Gen Z clients come of age (some of which already are), it is important to ask new questions to ensure that advisors clearly understand their needs and the best means of achieving them, argue the authors of this article.

A group of figures at Oak Group, an offshore fund administration group based in Guernsey, write about how they and other firms work with up-and-coming generations, such as “Generation Z” (defined as those born after 1997). They are famously plugged into the digital world, and all that brings. Wealth managers serving this group – or thinking about doing so – need to grasp a number of points, so the authors of this article argue.

The writers are Linda De Cicmic and Michael Le Page – Oak Trust Guernsey; Sara Hart and Kelly Malorey – Oak Jersey; Owen Hunt and Lee Moriarty – Oak Fund Services Guernsey and Hayley Kelly and Nathan Kelly – Oak Isle of Man. The editors of this news service are pleased to share these views, and invite responses. The usual editorial disclaimers apply. Jump into the debate! Email tom.burroughes@wealthbriefing.com and jackie.bennion@clearviewpublishing.com

Notwithstanding the complex compliance and regulatory developments across the financial services industry coupled with the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to ensure that the quality of service provided to clients is uncompromised. Meanwhile, the way in which new business relationships are sourced, established and maintained has evolved and continues to change. 

In response to an ever-changing global landscape, corporate service providers in the fiduciary sector are intuitively embracing and adapting to change. The so called “global wealth transfer” to the next generation is currently underway and will have implications for the key markets served by the private client and investment funds industries. With this wealth transfer comes a new client generation which will necessitate new approaches to business.

Generation Z (“Gen Z”) has become one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world, unique in their extreme synonymy with all things digital. It is said that Gen Z has now exceeded its generational predecessors, the so called “Millennials”, and now makes up over 32 per cent of the population which equates to the largest segment of the global population. With the oldest of Gen Z currently in their early twenties and projected to eclipse Millennials with regard to cultural and economic power over the next decade, they are a market force that cannot be ignored.  

A substantial proportion of Oak’s Isle of Man client base has historically established offshore structures with the main objective of succession planning. It would be, therefore, foolhardy not to examine what makes the succeeding generations “tick”, and then adapt to understand and meet their specific needs. Conversations with clients are increasingly related to their desire not only to educate their children on the history surrounding the accumulation of wealth, but to further educate succeeding generations on the preservation of that wealth.  

When comparing generations from Baby Boomers (“Boomers”) right down to Gen Z, it is found that although stereotypes exist (and there are always many exceptions), the comparison does highlight some factors that may have an impact on what each generation experienced during their childhood, and how their parents’ views may have influenced their views, their preferences and thoughts on future planning versus how they wish to spend and how and when they communicate.



Source: https://bigarrowgroup.com/connect-at-any-age/

In current structures, a Boomer may have settled a trust at the peak of their respective career for the benefit of their spouse (as a fellow Boomer), children (Generation X), grandchildren (Millennials) and even great grandchildren (Gen Z). Depending on the set-up of that structure and the family involvement, there may be a need to service and communicate with each generation differently resulting in a business having to be as flexible as possible.

Digital and conscious generation
Furthermore, Gen Z’s digital nativity; having little, or no memory of life without digital technology and devices, and their expectations have influenced society at large and business in particular, transforming the way in which we must all communicate, connect and market to this and other client segments. Products and services can now be accessed at the touch of a button which none of the other generations experienced growing up.  

One of the defining characteristics of Gen Z is their demand for environmental consciousness from government and business leaders, with the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity high on their agenda. Whilst not glaringly obvious, we have seen the impact of these demands on the private client sector, with regard to planning regulations for those clients in the business of land development. 

With Gen Z’s ecological ethos, the need for conserving and enhancing biodiversity will only grow, with experts in the field believing that biodiversity net gains of around 10 per cent will become requirements rather than aspirations for local planners in future. 

Impact of Gen Z on the investment funds 
Not only is investment increasing generally but the strategy behind that investing is changing. More investors are interested in “clean and green” assets while avoiding those that pose negative threats to the environment. Gen Z specifically wants to invest in innovative companies which are at the forefront of environmentally friendly products and services such as choosing to invest in “cleaner” electric motor vehicles rather than carbon emitting combustion engine vehicles. 

Gen Z are very active politically, highly environmentally conscious and not afraid to take a stand against practices - and companies - that they feel are not living up to their standards. Indeed, according to digital marketing intelligence firm Velocitize, 77 per cent of Gen Z members have taken action for a cause they believe in, and another 23 per cent have boycotted a brand they disagreed with.

Once again, technology has also been a driving force of Gen Z’s investment strategy. Smartphones have been a huge part of this change with some now working mostly from a mobile device. In the fund industry we are also seeing more investments in new companies which are usually more innovative, tech based and kinder to the environment. These companies are at the forefront of servicing the Gen Z community, changing trends at a rapid pace and with a focus on a more sustainable future. 

So how do the different generational groups have an impact on how trustees and administrators can service and understand the needs of their clients in the best way?

The older generational groups experienced a time of war and great recessions therefore they may be more inclined to save for harder times and plan for future generations. Medical developments were slow compared with the current environment and overall individuals seemed less likely to look after themselves by way of healthy eating or exercise, leading to earlier mortality.

They may therefore prefer less risky investment strategies as, after all they will have more attachment to the assets of the structure having generated it themselves and therefore they will  wish to ensure it is enjoyed and continued for as long as possible. 

Gen Z is able to reach vast groups of people via social media posts which can be viewed by millions of people within minutes making this generational group incredibly influential. All of this technology may result in Gen Z’s being more impatient than their older groups. They may wish to see a higher rate of return on structure investments earlier or be more conscious of environmental aspects such as deforestation or global warming, subjects that the original settlor may not have considered or have any particular preference for. Gen Z is therefore clearly a future key client for all, especially with the vast technological leaps being enjoyed.

As Gen Z clients come of age (some of which already are), it is important to ask new questions to ensure that advisors clearly understand their needs and the best means of achieving them. No matter how difficult, it is important to maintain contact. 

Trustees and administrators will face different challenges in looking after this generation and those to come. The world changing to a more IT-based environment has not come without its own challenges. Communication is and has always been essential to understanding, providing and building the best relationship with clients.

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