The Silent Generation (ages 73 to 93) has witnessed a fair share of paradigmatic changes. As the group's moniker suggests, the “Silents” came up in a time of predominant social conformity, when conservative social principles reigned supreme; an era of McCarthyism, where head down, hard work and career-focus were favored over activism. The Silents have benefited from a generous social safety net, a near-miss with the past recession (many had already entered retirement) and rebounding stock and home values. During their peak earning years:
- 68 percent of Silents were married
- 38 percent of women worked outside the home
- 12 percent of men and 7 percent of women had bachelor degrees1
- Witnessed the creation of Social Security and Medicare
Some characteristics include:
- Technologically challenged
- Loyal to employers
- Respectful of authority
Connecting with the Silent Generation
While 59 percent of 65 to 69-year-olds say they own smartphones, that number dips to 31 percent for 75- to 79-year-olds, and only 17 percent for those over 80 years old.2 However, internet adoption in older generations still remains high, with six in 10 seniors in the 75 to 79 age range saying they use the internet at home.
But digital literacy doesn't mean this generation has abandoned their traditionalist approach to communicating. According to the American Association of Retired Persons and the Financial Planning Association's "Guide to Working with Older Clients," preferences often lean towards face-to-face communication or at the very least, phone calls.3
- Communicate in clear, jargon-free language.
- Explain what services and products you provide.
- Be prepared to answer questions in person.
- Provide hard copies of forms and reports.
- Approach questions about their financial history without judgement.
- Over time, pay attention to any physical and cognitive changes in your clients.
Meeting with them
- Meet clients personally in the lobby or reception area and walk with them to your office or meeting room.
- Prepare your meeting rooms with seating for clients with physical disabilities, such as adjustable chairs and wheelchair-accessible tables.
- Reduce extraneous noise as much as possible for clients with hearing disabilities.
- Try to have family members present when discussing sensitive subjects like end-of-life planning.