The customer of tomorrow is defined by generational change, demographic shifts, social trends and digital integration, says demographer and futurist Mark McCrindle.

“Think about tomorrow’s customer,” he says. “They will have never used a fax machine. Never taken a call on a landline. With contactless payments, they won’t have credit cards or a wallet. They won’t carry cash and will live in a world of wearable technology and touchscreen devices.”

The emerging generations will also work in jobs which don’t yet exist, he says. “In a World Economic Forum report, it said 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will work in new job types that don’t yet exist. So that’s a world of change, and this is the generation that will soon be entering the workforce in record numbers.”

When engaging with this new generation, financial advisers must keep in mind that peer influence and the power of validation, as well as the influence of others, is paramount. “They have an expectation of product innovation and not just wanting to be exposed to the latest product or service, but be co-creators of it,” says Mark. “They want a voice – a say and input into it.”

Emerging generations expect products and services to adapt to them with predictive algorithms that can help solve their needs before they realise it. They’re also expecting continuous volatility because volatility is the only thing they have known.

“Great organisations understand all of this,” says Mark. “They have a focus on not just the next innovation but the next generation. That’s where they invest their time and energy.”

Engage, equip and empower

Mark says financial advisers need to follow the “three ‘E’s” when it comes to future generations. First, they need to engage, and not just with the eyes of the head but with the eyes of the heart.

“It’s not the IQ but the EQ that is key,” he says. “Can we understand the non-monetary rewards, the culture expectations and the leadership styles which work best to engage with the emerging generations?”

The second ‘E’ is “Equip”. Regardless of what the workplace of the future looks like – and it’s probably going to be a hybrid environment, partly at home and partly in the office – it’s where future generations, who will live and work for longer than previous generations, will spend so much of their lives.

“As leaders in the workplace, we have the opportunity to significantly shape and grow and impact people, equipping them for the challenges to come,” says Mark.

And Mark’s final ‘E’ is “Empowerment”. That is, emerging generations want exposure to an amazing leader who empowers them. “If we can give the emerging generation opportunities, leverage and training, and then give them the platform to lead, they will do very well,” he adds. “I think the future will be great if we can do that.”