Advisers need an empathetic mindset to support the financial needs of Generation X

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Every day the squeezed generation faces a mountain of emotional and financial challenges.

Generation X is the squeezed generation, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Facing unique challenges both day-to-day and financially, they’re experiencing pressure from all sides.

Currently sitting between 40 and 55 years old, many in the cohort are hitting that time in their lives where they’re not only responsible for a growing family, but simultaneously managing the care of ageing parents. Financially, Gen Xers have hit a period of many outgoing expenses, with school fees, extra-curricular activities, mortgages and family expenses often stacking up alongside the costs of supporting parents into retirement homes, home care, or other wellbeing needs.

It’s a tough job, and one I know well as a Gen Xer and parent to three kids aged 10 to 14 myself.

A recent report by the Financial Planning Association of Australia shows that more than 51 per cent of Gen Xers don’t believe they’ll have enough money to retire, while 37 per cent report their top financial dream is to set themselves up financially for retirement.

This, for advisers, should serve as a reminder that technical expertise, market awareness and financial knowhow is only part of the equation. What’s clear is it’s important not only to understand and navigate the financial stressors facing this generation, but the emotional ones too with many in the cohort potentially grappling with the mortality and passing of their parents, while supporting a growing family.

COVID-19 has exacerbated many of these challenges for Gen X. ‘Australian Unity’s Wellbeing Index’ recently found that while generally Australians have maintained a relatively stable sense of wellbeing, dual and single parents with dependents at home reported higher levels of stress and more home life difficulties throughout 2020.

By meeting this generation with empathy and understanding, financial advisers can home in on their specific needs to deliver sound financial advice, relative to each individual. Strong emotional intelligence provides advisers with a solid foundation to build trust and offer support through stressful times, while at the back end, having the right systems and controls in place to support a strong engagement model ensures advisers can provide advice with confidence. 

With many aspects of a Gen Xers life beyond their control, it’s also important for advisers to give them the space to choose how they engage with advice and empower them to feel in charge of their financial future.

It’s integral advisers not only know what’s keeping different clients up at night, but how sound strategies help them, from owning and holding onto assets, to saving for future retirement and navigating investment markets.

Every day the squeezed generation faces a mountain of emotional and financial challenges, but by providing them a kind ear and the right financial strategies, advisers can ensure that each client walks out of their office one step lighter than when they entered.

By Matt Brown

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