As my hairs have gotten grayer in the last decade, I can’t help but to have noticed the major transformation that has altered how humans interact with one another. The digital revolution has permeated every facet of my life (as I’m sure it has yours): from how I get my news, to how I stay in touch with my family, to how I do business each day.
The “greatest generation” (i.e., those who grew up during the Great Depression) saw the widespread adoption of telephones and television sets. This generation spent the majority of its working years communicating through pen and paper, typewriters, and “snail mail.” The children of this generation—i.e., the “baby boomers”—grew up with much more access to information than their parents, but the information was not immediate, not “in your face,” and not coming at you from half a dozen devices at once. The way these two generations worked was very different, but the two groups’ outlooks were not necessarily in opposition. Like me, many of you reading this are probably part of Generation X or Generation Y. While we also have distinct world views and experiences compared to the generations who preceded us, we still are markedly different from the youngest members of today’s work force.
A new generation, the millennials—80 million people currently aged 19-33—have entered adulthood amidst a dramatic shift from how the generations before them had operated. This is the generation of 140 characters. Formality and focus have taken a back seat to instant and seemingly unlimited amounts of information. This has had some profound effects on how business is done and even on the way companies handle investor relations. In fact, the SEC has recently changed the way that you can interact with the Street using social media.
This new generation now makes up more than one third of the workforce, and in seven years will account for one half of the workforce. Relative to your role as a CEO, CFO or IR pro, these millennials increasingly have more authority, seniority and decision-making power in the money management world. As a result, you should expect to conduct meetings with potential shareholders and find that the portfolio manager or analyst sitting across from you may look remarkably close in age to your son or daughter.
And, in my opinion, all of this is a good thing. The millennials are well educated, have a global perspective, are technology savvy and can quickly process and analyze information. Couple all of these factors with Wall Street’s tough hiring standards and, I believe, the millennials have earned the right to be on the Street. Any time spent with many of these bright young people will be a good use of your time.
At Westwicke, we recognize that this new generation will change the business and investor relations’ landscape. We think regularly about how best to communicate with millenials – and we hope are clients do, too. Contact us for more strategic information that can help with your IR decision-making, sign up for our newsletter to learn more about this and other IR-related topics, and comment below to share your thoughts on working with the millenials on Wall Street.