With Corporate America in the midst of huge efforts to harness the power of the millennial generation as consumers and employees, the young people being targeted so aggressively are themselves missing the financial boat, according to a top-rated financial advisor.
Millennials, loosely defined as people born in the early 1980s through the late 1990s, are an "almost a clueless generation in so many ways," John Spooner, managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, told CNBC in an interview Monday.
Author of the book "No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons for Young Adults," Spooner said the problem is twofold: Schools are not teaching young people "particular solutions," and parents are trying to be "buddies with their kids," instead of teaching them to survive in the real world.
In three key takeaways from his book, the Morgan Stanley financial advisor outlines how millennials—also known as Generation Y—can succeed in life and in managing their own money.
First of all, Spooner told "Squawk Box" that young people need to be responsive to getting advice by resisting "the entitlement gene" mentality and devising a concrete plan for success in the next five years.
In conversations with millennials, he said a common answer is: Work for myself, "but they have no idea how that's going to take shape." Another answer he said he gets, is: "Where am I going to be in five years? I don't know where I'm going to be next week."
The second theme Spooner wants to impart to young people just beginning their careers is: Life is all about relationships—real ones, not virtual.
Don't rely on technology as your sole means of communications, he continued, seek the counsel of an older, more experienced worker. "Millennials should invite them to lunch, and buy them lunch."
As millennials become more and more successful, they need to do a better job of understanding and managing their money, said Spooner, describing a third lesson from the book.
"As young people, I'm talking 25 to 40-plus, you should go for long-term growth of your capital, and it should include diversifying in your 401(k)," he told CNBC.
"But my concept in addition to this is find something I call your stake-in-life-company—something you believe is going to be around for the next 20 years that you can accumulate slowly," he continued. "Every single time you get bad markets, add to it."
An author of financial nonfiction as well as novels, Spooner in his life as an investment advisor manages money for 800 families around the world with assets under management of over a billion dollars.