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Merrill Lynch recently released a white paper Millennials and Money that surveyed some of the most affluent members of the youngest generation currently in the workforce and found them to be at odds with many of the stereotypes typically applied to this group.
Michael Liersch, director of behavioral science for Merrill Lynch writes:
These young people aren’t rebelling against the traditional investment approaches advocated by their parents—not only do most say they would have no objection to using their parents’ financial advisors, they are also most likely to describe their investment philosophy as “buy and hold.” They aren’t turning to their friends and peers in their digitally managed social networks for investment guidance, and don’t uniformly spurn professional advice. To the contrary, eager to learn, they seem to value expertise wherever they can find it.
Liersch’s research has identified a niche where Millennials are perhaps more conservative and more like their Boomer parents than had previously been thought. Of course, niche is the key word. This piece targets a small segment of the population – primarily individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 with investible assets of more than $3 million. But the findings are still fascinating.
When reading through Liersch’s observations I’m struck by the seeming dichotomies of a generation that is, like its Xer peers, extremely skeptical and needing to be “shown not told” while at the same time willing to rely on the same advisors as their parents. Though, assuming affluence begets affluence, the “show me” hurdle has technically already been cleared. Still – the fact that they aren’t turning to generational peers is a fairly significant shift from the norm.
It’s a long piece, but worth the read – and not just for financial advisors. It demonstrates the importance of not only understanding generational norms, but also in being able to determine the scenarios where they may not hold true so that you can approach a situation with the proper frame of mind.
Even while being diagnosed as the most narcissistic generation ever, Millennials continue to have an altruistic streak which showed up in the results of a study by the National Society of High School Scholars, which published its 6th Annual Career Survey Results last week.
Yes, the Millennials heading to college this fall have big dreams for 2017. They want to work for Apple, DreamWorks, Disney and Google. But their number one preferred company to work for: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. True to their generational traits, it is not just about the paycheck – they want to feel good about the whole package.
The up-and-comers also indicated that benefits were almost twice as important as base salary (77.7% vs. 38.8%) and the most important factor in a company’s overall image and perception was that they are viewed as treating employees fairly.
That being said, a touch of narcissism still appears in the survey results. When asked what characteristics most qualified them to work for the employer of their choice, 59% indicated “skills and expertise.” Perhaps a poorly worded question, but it sure sounds like a majority of 11th and 12th graders think they are already qualified to help save lives a St. Jude’s.
Which also does not surprise me one bit.
In June 1997, TIME magazine ran a cover story about Generation X – “Great Expectations of So-Called Slackers” where they attempted to enlighten Boomers and Matures about the benefits of Xers in the workplace and the world in general. The discussions that piece sparked with clients, colleagues and peers were the impetus for what is now Generational Insights. This week the folks at TIME are at it again with their cover story “The Me Me Me Generation” and its companion piece “Millennials: The Next Greatest Generation.”
On the one hand, this feels a little like seeing dock siders and day-glow clothing in the stores – I’m not old enough to be living through trends a second time, am I? On the other hand, these articles tap into a recurring theme in my work with companies throughout the country – yes, the younger generations have always confounded their predecessors. In and of itself, this is not news. What is news – and what I believe is at the core of the disconnect in the workforce – is how each generation confounds us.
Research shows us over and over that even when you count for the follies of youth “generational DNA” is distinct, and this brings about both challenge and opportunity. Businesses emerge – stemming from new ideas and the need to meet new demands. Expectations shift – politically, socially, organizationally. Companies that are ready and willing to adapt to change – even while holding steadfast to principle and tradition – are always the ones that thrive.
So, I’ve seen two iterations of this cover story now. I wonder what the headline will be in the spring of 2029. Anybody want to venture a guess?
When I was growing up a popular show on PBS had a song that teased “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same.” It’s becoming clear that etiquette, common sense and social media just do not belong in the same sentence and it is affecting the one of the most etiquette-focused areas of the business world: the job interview.
Yes, the “I can’t believe somebody actually did that” HR files include job candidates who have texted or accepted cell phone calls while in an interview, according to this story from USA Today.
Normally I’d take the time to tell you how the generational norms make this understandable, but today I’ve got nothing. Well, that’s not true. I can tell you where it comes from but that still doesn’t tell you why they don’t know any better. Sometimes I do join you in SMH. (That’s text for “shaking my head.”)
And for the younger folks out there reading this – turn off the phone when you walk into an interview. It’s that simple.
So here’s an interesting one – at least from my perspective as a parent and as a speaker on generational topics. For 15 years I’ve been working with largely Boomer business leaders who are exasperated with the way younger generations behave in the business world. Time and again, I’ve considered – and occasionally pondered aloud – that the employees who don’t want to pay their dues and expect to be praised for showing up on time were raised with participation trophies and an “as long as you’re happy” mantra by the very people (collectively) who are now their employers and complaining about their work ethic. Hmmmm.
Today’s teenagers are more materialistic and less interested in working hard than the baby boomers were in their teens, according to a new study. But sorry, boomers, the researchers say it’s probably your fault for creating a culture that breeds narcissism and entitlement.
Placing blame doesn’t solve the problem, and to be fair there is more than parenting style at the heart of the discussion. The bottom line is that businesses need these Millennials in order to stay successful. But how can you engage a workforce whose members demonstrate “a growing discrepancy between the desire for material rewards and the willingness to do the work usually required to earn them”?
I suggest that business leaders key into the many positive attributes of Millennials. This generation is typically confident, high-achieving and group-oriented – three characteristics that provide some insight into how to structure assignments and communications to achieve the results you need.
While tradeshow and event managers pride themselves on creativity, the basic structure and components of special events have been somewhat tried and true. A recent report by Amsterdam RAI demonstrates why savvy companies are smart to look at events and event marketing with a whole new light. Changing demographics = changing demands, and the younger generations have explicit expectations for how they wish to be engaged. According to the report, Millennials crave engagement and Generation X continues to be skeptical.
This corroborates the experiences of many professional association clients that have expressed frustration with younger generations not attending their flagship events, such as annual conferences, with the same consistency and enthusiasm as their Baby Boomer members have reliably demonstrated for years. We’re seeing that the difference is directly related to generational values.
For example, Boomers value face time while Gen Xers value personal time. It stands to reason then, that Boomers will place a priority on gathering with their peers for a week of education and networking while Gen Xers will need to be convinced of reasons to spend several days away from family and friends.
Similarly, while the Boomers place great trust in authority and therefore may be attracted to keynote speakers and marquee presenters, Millennials put more faith in their own experience and will be drawn to events where they can be part of the action. Hands on learning labs and collaborative activities are likely to increase attendance.
Apply creativity to the event structure, not just the themes, and you may find a greater range of generations present and engaged.
As the stock market indexes reach unprecedented heights, Millennial employment and wealth are still stuck at recession like levels. Despite the emerging “green shoots” in recent economic news, including declining overall unemployment, Millennial unemployment has been stuck around 11%, with a “real” rate of about 16% (including those who are not actively looking for work).
This disparity, observers suggest, will only worsen the disconnect and distrust between the Millennial generation and the financial markets, as prosperity, in the Millennials’ view, seems to be available to everyone but them. Without the financial means to participate in the investment economy, they may become more skeptical of its potential to benefit them and resentful of the policies and practices that bring its wealth to others.
On top of the scars left by the Great Recession and financial crisis, the discrepancy between Millennial economic reality and the “adult” economy will be another barrier that financial professionals have to overcome as they try to convince the next generation that the turbulent waters of the markets are safe for swimming.
A lot has been written about the effects of Baby Boomers retiring en masse over the next couple of decades – on employers, on markets, on healthcare, etc. Now, a new analysis from the Metropolitan Research Center suggests that aging Boomers selling off their homes will lead to the next big crisis in the housing market.
Over the last few decades of the 20th Century, Boomers drove demand for single-family homes and accounted for most of that market. As they retire, they will begin to sell those homes but the market for them will be considerably smaller.
First, the generation just behind the Boomers, Generation X, is smaller in size. Next, both Gen Xers and Millennials are less keen on single-family homes than their Boomer parents. Many more of them are interested in urban condos and town houses than previous generations. Finally, those younger generations have less wherewithal to buy a first home, especially the Millennials, who otherwise would have the demographic weight to generate some demand.
The study projects the effects to be felt beginning around 2020. “If there’s 1.5 to 2 million homes coming on the market every year at the end of this decade from senior households selling off,” said one researcher, “who’s behind them to buy? My guess is not enough…. That’s going to hit us. Not right now. But my guess is that about the turn of the decade”
The two youngest generations, Millennials and Generation X, are the ones most concerned about their spending, saving, and investing, according to a TD Canada Trust survey. In contrast, 80% of Boomers feel they are managing their money well, even if 56% feel they don’t have enough of it.
Millennials are most likely (65%) in the survey to worry that they are spending too much, compared with 56% of Xers and 44% of Boomers. Millennials are also most likely (55%) to want to learn more about finance and money management.
Meanwhile, Generation X has the most competing financial concerns, including retirement (55%), mortgages (44%), loans (38%), and credit card debt (37%). 70% of Xers say they are not saving enough.
The overall picture is that generation is a key factor in financial outlook. “This decision-making process is influenced by the generation to which we belong, and the corresponding cultural and economic factors that make the future appear differently to us,” said one of the study’s authors.
Millennial investors are more conservative and less trusting than other generations of investors, according to a recent Accenture survey. 43% describe themselves as conservative and say they prefer (27%) the “tried and true” compared to 31% and 19% of Boomers, respectively.
Millennials are also much more likely to consult other sources and not rely solely on the advice of a financial professional (28% vs. 7% of Boomers). 44% of Millennials say they do a lot of independent research before deciding to buy or sell.
The good news for financial advisors: over 40% of Millennials say they are determined to build wealth and leave a legacy and that they want to better understand investing options, more so than other generations.
They are also digitally savvy and learning how to reach them online could pay dividends across the board: “The behaviors and attitudes of Millennials are not just a matter of long-term strategy for wealth managers; they are a leading indicator of the need for change today,” said an Accenture exec. ” The explosion of digital and social channels in everyday life is simultaneously spilling into consumers’ relationships with their financial institutions. With half of all baby-boom investors currently active in social media and a vast majority active online, the innovations that will capture the millennial generation also will help capture the most coveted demographics among Gen Xers and baby boomers.”
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