Gen X, Gen Y…nice terms but the definition keeps changing. If you have dealt with the baby boomers and their kids, let us accept one thing. These kids are different!!

When I say Gen Y in terms of financial planning, I am using 1984 (George Orwell) as the cut off for their birth dates. They could be engineers, doctors, management graduates, qualified accountants, or sports people. Clearly they are different. Let us look at their characteristics:

  1. They have seen a prosperous India ONLY. No ration lines, no shortages, 8% growth, parents owning houses, and driving cars – these are kids of a prosperous generation. Yes personally not all of them are rich, but they are part of a rich society.
  2. The urban upper middle class Gen Y is very different from the rural GenY but there is a quick catch up.
  3. They need not save / invest for their parents, and many of them will inherit at least one house – self or spouse.
  4. They may have lived a sheltered, pampered life, but job losses bring them to earth quickly.
  5. They are committed to a relationship, but not a slave to one – they will happily walk out.
  6. Many of them could be in the Rs. 70L joint ctc bracket, but about Rs. 18-20L is more like the norm per head.

Let us see how an IFA has to tweak his approach to this group of fast growing kids…

  1. It is not about Retirement planning, it is about break / hobby / business planning: If you talk to a 31 year old about retirement, it is justified from a planner’s point of view, but these kids will laugh. It is just too far away into the future. However they are willing to take a change in career paths. I see many accountants working as Business Analysts and trying to move as Project Managers. They are willing to quit their job at 28 to do a 1 year MBA (that is the average age in ISB, Hyderabad . Could be similar even in the IIMs). So they need a lump sum for taking a break, going on a Himalaya trek for 6 months, change of career, and stopping to work (do not call it retirement, they will resist that word).
  2. It is about Life Counselling: ‘Subra sir I wish to do my MBA – should I do it from IIM, ISB or should I go abroad? Well not all IFAs can develop the ability to answer such questions! However over a long time if you have a good database of friends / clients / friends / relatives who can answer such questions, you could create such resource person. They start interacting and realize the value of experience, and seek one line, one coffee, one lunch kinda ‘advisory’. So provide or create a circle.
  3. They are challenged for time: It is not as though they cannot understand mutual funds, financial planning, etc. but they are hugely challenged for time and many, many, many of them WILL not want to do it themselves. They are under far greater stress. Imagine if they come home at 9 everyday, work on weekends, try to keep in touch with their parents, in laws, own kids, school friends, college friends, colleagues,…seeing stupid tables, and comparing values etc. is the LAST THING that they want to do.
  4. Communicate where they are: They are on FB, blogs, twitter, LinkedIn. If you are an adviser can you afford to be missing. Yes you may want to keep your private life and professional life separate, but you cannot really run away from the social media. You will have to write, talk, tweet, share other’s post. The confidence that you are adding value to the client has to come from within. As an adviser you add value in hand holding, in mentoring, in helping them do sensible asset allocation, not just from choosing in which fund to invest. Tell them what you can do and what you cannot do. For example telling them that you will NOT do stock selection is a message that you do not wish to be in the unregulated PMS or direct equity advisory space. Lack of regulation means client expectations can be too damn heavy. Match their wavelength, language, brevity and speed.
  5. I am not sure if expensive marketing gimmicks work: I am not sure if these skeptical kids are impressed with expensive gifts. They see through all these actions very quickly, so try to tell them stories instead of buying them gifts. Choose reasonable places to eat out, do not try to overwhelm them with 5 star lunches. They do not like that. Instead choose a quaint joint that has history. Understand that they are stressed for time, so make the experience a good one. There has to be good learning for them, apart from the money that their portfolio makes.
  6. Be clear, blunt, fair and honest. Remember these kids are already being asked  about their marriages and progeny by all and sundry. So know what is sensitive and what is within your scope of asking! Yes you need to plan for the finances, but do not push hard. I now know of 4 gay kids and yes their financial planning is a little different, but asking them about marriage and kids could be putting them off. Keep the line safe.


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  1. sir dont you think the date should be 1991 post globalization ? only those are kids 24-25yrs following your pattern

  2. Sreekanth Yelicherla

    I felt this statement is extreme – Many of them could be in the Rs. 70L joint ctc bracket, but about Rs. 18-20L is more like the norm per head.

  3. Paramjeet Singh Kabra

    Umang u must be a joker. In the whole article does it say this is only for people who are earning Rs. 20L? I work in a Tech consulting firm..the starting salary is Rs. 12 L and in about 4 years time we do reach about 18L salary…but we are in the top ..we know that..

  4. Sreekanth Yelicherla

    @Umang: I don’t want to sound too aggressive but I’ve a similar opinion that Subra presumes that all salary holders are earning high wages. Subra sir, the only concern I’ve is such statements create a sense of insecurity in the minds of people. Even the big companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, ICICI etc are paying no more than Rs. 3.25 lakh per annum for freshers and for years. Add the TDS, income tax etc they don’t earn near to peon in govt offices whose minimum salary is Rs. 16,000 per month.

  5. I concur with Umang & Sreekanth. The moment i see such obscene figures mentioned anywhere…i close the page / stop reading the article.

  6. Subra sir,
    I agree with the comments of Mr. Lakshminarasimman.
    Take my case – I’m a 1984 born but the very first point you made itself doesn’t fit me. Though we were considered to belong to the middle class category then, I’ve myself been in ration lines and have very well seen shortages. My parents owned house only towards the time of their retirement and till date they do not own a car (though I do own one now). And to keep it short let me not talk about other assumptions that you made about these Gen Y.

  7. clearly there is a perception gap. Look at the companies mentioned..Icici bank? TCS? Infy? these are the mass recruiters who go nowhere near the IIMs and ISBs. No self respecting CA starts at less than Rs. 7L in a big 4 – at least not in Mumbai – which Subra sir is saying. 20L for a 31 year old is high? yes. Is it unheard of? No. Not if you are staying in Mumbai or Delhi. Yes it is high if you are say Pune or Indore. Almost all of Subra’s examples are Mumbai. If it is FMcG giants like Hul, this is par for the course..MOST IMPORTANTLY like Paramjeet says there is NOTHING which stops others from reading this article..

  8. The salary numbers are high and are mostly cosmopolitan but not obscene. I think Subra’s circle has a lot of folks from top institutions – IIMs/IITs/doctors/CAs etc. I’m 35+ and from one of the IIMs and I can say that these numbers are not out of the mark.. there are several who make more at 31.

    But yes, 70L joint at 31 years old is a stretch. Both husband/wife should have a solid background and should be doing really well. That’s about 0.01% of the population (which is still a lac folks in the country).

    Net-net – I think Subra is talking about the top 0.5 to 1% of the population.

  9. This is some kind of a summarising comment..

    1. None of the people who have commented have a clue about the demographics of Subra’s audience. I know a portion of them, including me and my colleagues, and we are in the Rs. 50-70L total family income and age @ 32.

    2. Umang u have a choice, but it is stupid to make such comments, but Subra allows all kind of jokers to comment, so you can. If you are not in that income category, you think there is NOBODY who earns that much, is downright stupid. I agree with Paramjeet.

    3. Ritesh u of course have a right not to read this post, well u have a right not to read this site at all.

  10. Dear Mr. Sethuraman,

    Thank you for your explanation on demographic of this esteemed website. Did not know that the coterie existed here as well. Well, i was only going with the tag line, we make smart people rich! and not what you mean, we make rich people richer!!

    Before calling people names, you need to understand the demography of this country called India as well. HINT…look no further and click ….

    Thirdly, You Mr. Sethuraman, you have RIGHT to not respond to my POST…..and BTW, NO THANKS for your unsolicited comments for poor soul like me.

    Lastly…. figures don’t lie…. if you get my drift.

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