4 generations at work: How capital markets firms can leverage differences across internal teams


With four strikingly different generations at work, it can be difficult to run your capital markets firm as one cohesive, collaborative unit. Age diversity in a workplace can lead to miscommunication, wrong assumptions, and fumbled workflows. Eventually, this lack of unity can plague capital markets firms and their productivity.


On the other hand, having too many like-minded individuals can be a disservice to a firm as well. The balance lies in understanding each generation’s characteristics and how they tend to play out in the capital markets world. With this understanding, you can increase cohesiveness among the team, overcome generational barriers, and allow everyone to play to their strengths. By using your firm’s age diversity to your advantage instead of ignoring or minimizing it, you can harness a collaborative superpower of real teamwork, leading to more efficient, profitable transactions.


Gen Z

Anyone born between 1997 and 2010 is considered part of Gen Z. Since these employees are the youngest members at your firm, they’re often in entry-level roles such as research analysts and associates.


Gen Z is a generation of firsts: It’s the first generation whose majority may never work in a traditional office, and it’s more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. Those who belong to Gen Z also tend to prefer using the latest digital technology. Many grew up with digital educational tools like Google Classroom, and they often prefer cloud-based apps to traditional technology like locally hosted office suites.


Additionally, McKinsey research found that 60% of employees from Generation Z place high importance on mental health service offerings when considering where to work. Money is often not this group’s main priority for working: EY’s 2021 Gen Z Segmentation Study revealed that the desire to “be the best” and “make a difference” matters more to Gen Z than salary alone.


Allow Gen Z professionals to personalize their working style and habits

To make the most of your relationship with your firm’s youngest employees, make their uniqueness something to be celebrated, elevated, and enjoyed. Discuss the unique characteristics of Gen Z in your diversity trainings and in ongoing diversity discussions. Add discussions on ageism to your current diversity training materials, and include a section on how to spot and stop ageism as well as reverse-ageism — something Gen Z experiences most. Include true stories of misunderstandings that have occurred between generations at work and how they could have been avoided.


Another way to help Gen Z professionals thrive is by giving them autonomy over their workflows and task management. DealCloud is the only deal and relationship management system purpose-built for every generation working in the private capital markets. The platform lets users configure their experience to receive pertinent notifications and alerts as deals move through the transaction process.


You should also allow Gen Z professionals to customize their own user instances with individualized dashboards that show them real-time, hyper-relevant information. DealCloud’s customizable dashboards show the status of the deals and relationships that are most important to Gen Z professionals in a way that’s uniquely their own. To see this capability in action, schedule a demo.



Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials reshaped many of the capital markets’ previous standards. One major difference millennials brought to the financial services industry is the change in roles of male and female dealmakers. Millennial women earn more high-level degrees than men: For every 100 postgraduate male students, there are 148 female students.


Professionally, millennials are quick to adopt new ways of thinking; after all, as consumers, they readily embraced disruptive services like Airbnb, Kickstarter, and Uber. However, millennials won’t advocate for just any new innovation: This group is savvy and tolerant of measured risks at work, and often encourage dealmakers to try new tools and processes within the safe environment of planned experimentation.


Give millennials opportunities to express their ideas

Often technologically curious, many millennials excel at testing and implementing new technology. Consider tapping this group to help your firm balance the traditional workflow rituals of older generations with the fast-paced and tech-savvy needs of Gen Z.


As a generation focused on supporting both women in the workplace and their families, this group can also be ideal for helping firm leadership craft policies around issues like maternity leave, childcare benefits, and remote work options.


Finally, capital markets leaders should include millennials in a measured number of decision-making leadership roles, and consider asking millennials to assist partners in strategic planning. Research at Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows that placing millennials on a “shadow board” gives them the visibility and transparency they seek, and lets leaders hear creative, strategic ideas from this generation.


Gen X

Gen X includes those born between 1965 and 1980. In capital markets firms, many principals, vice presidents, and junior partners are from this generation.


Gen X grew up during a time that saw an increase of professional women at the office, meaning that many kids would let themselves in their homes and take care of themselves until their parents returned from work. This “latchkey kid” culture led to a generation of independent and creative adults, and they’ve brought those characteristics into the capital restructuring industry. For example, some Gen X professionals may adopt their own technology to increase their individual efficiency, or host intermediary dinners off the clock.


According to HBR analysts, Gen X professionals are the least likely to be promoted at work, yet are often saddled with the highest workloads. This disparity has led many within this age group to feel frustrated with their employers. They’re also more likely to be recruited or poached by other organizations.


Provide Gen X with work flexibility and advancement

To retain your Gen X professionals, start by acknowledging the heavy lifting they do. Leverage tools like the Deal Stage View in DealCloud for visibility into what every team member is currently working on. Recognize the tasks these team members have taken on, and applaud them publicly for their hard work.


Next, plot out and document specific, measurable steps that your Gen X team members need to take to be promoted to their next roles — whether that’s vice president, principal, managing director, or partner — and give them the flexibility to work in their preferred manner to attain those milestones.


For example, although Gen X didn’t grow up with hybrid work, many still enjoy the autonomy of digital nomadism and thrive as they move in and out of the corporate office environment. Consider outfitting your professionals with a mobile device for on-the-go dealmaking, a laptop for remote workstations, and a robust in-office setup with quality monitors for data analysis.


You can also provide more work flexibility by investing in a firmwide deal and relationship management system that includes a robust mobile app. DealCloud’s offline mode, for example, lets dealmakers sync their work — even when they don’t have a network connection. Download DealCloud’s guide to on-the-go dealmaking to see other ways technology can empower Gen X in the capital restructuring industry.

Source: DealCloud.com


Baby boomers

People from the baby boomer generation were born between 1946 and 1964, and are largely responsible for founding today’s capital restructuring industry and shaping the investment market. Many baby boomers hold managing partner or managing director positions at capital markets firms thanks to their years of experience.


Baby boomers can often relate and work well with others from their generation, including private company founders and owners who represent ripe leveraged buyout (LBO) or other investment opportunities. These older founders and owners — who have dedicated a significant portion of their life to building their organizations — are often ready to execute their exit strategy, creating rich soil for profitable relationships.


Unfortunately, a 2020 survey conducted by Vyond and TRUE Global Intelligence found that 50% of baby boomers feel frustrated by a lack of connection with their coworkers. This percentage is higher than for any other generation at work, and their interactions with younger generations clearly expose professional differences.


For example, baby boomers tend to prefer working on-site rather than remotely. They usually favor phone calls and in-person meetings over email or text conversations, and may not integrate digital tools like investor portals as quickly as their younger teammates.


That said, don’t underestimate this generation’s loyalty to the technology they do embrace. Research shows that baby boomers generally take more time to adopt solutions, but once they do, they tend to trust and defend those helpful tools.


Encourage baby boomers to collaborate with younger colleagues

When it comes to understanding coworkers from different generations, communication is key. Encourage curiosity and provide opportunities for collaboration and shoulder-rubbing among generations.


Your firm may wish to offer reverse mentoring — a formal partnership between younger generations who want to share their cultural and technological knowledge with their older counterparts. Consider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which offers a reverse mentoring program that involves 122 millennials who meet regularly to assist and teach 200 baby boomers about newer tools and best practices at work.


One millennial mentor, Krystal Allen, said that the benefits of reverse mentoring go both ways. “What I have enjoyed most is the ability to share my experience as a woman within the firm to challenge the partners’ views and ways of working, in a safe environment,” she told journalists at Human Resources Director magazine.


Our differences are fewer than our similarities

Professionals working in the capital restructuring sectors have more generational similarities than differences. “Every generation thinks they are different,” an investment banker recently said. “In reality, we are all the same.” After all, everyone wants to feel valued at work, and be recognized and rewarded for their contributions.


Looking for a pipeline management system that connects every individual at your firm? Schedule a demo of DealCloud today.


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Katlyn Kohler

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