A new U.S. Trust survey of high net worth and ultra high net worth adults finds a surprising generational divide in response to “new economic realities, uncertain financial security, a looming elder care crisis, and dual financial responsibilities for both children and parents.”
Gen X-ers and Millennials, contrary to the popular perception of them as spoiled, self-absorbed and entitled, are more likely than baby boomers to step up to meet family financial responsibilities.
Forty percent of high-and ultra high net worth Gen-Xers and Millennials, ages 18 to 46, have established a financial plan for parents’ elder care needs, compared to 20 percent of baby boomers. Similarly, 44 percent of this younger demographic have paid medical costs for parents and other relatives vs. 42 percent of boomers.
The wealthiest Gen-Xers and Millennials are more closely aligned with the prior-boomer generation in the importance of intergenerational wealth transfer, the survey found, with 76 percent of those ages 18 to 46 and 73 percent of seniors over 67 agreeing it is important to leave a financial inheritance to their children. But only 55 percent of boomers think it is important to leave a financial inheritance to their children, with one-in-three saying they would rather leave money to charity than to their children.
This “shift in generational behavior and outlook,” was most likely shaped “by personal experience and societal responses to economic realities,” said Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust, in statement. “The next generation has not experienced the consistently strong economic growth or investment returns that baby boomers experienced during the longest bull market in history.”
Coming of age in more uncertain times, these high net worth Millennials and Gen-Xers are “pragmatic, proactive and disciplined in their approach to investing and wealth management, surpassing baby boomers in planning for wealth for themselves and their families,” U.S. Trust noted.
Other key findings:
· One-third of Gen-Xers and Millennials have purchased long-term care insurance for their parents compared to 6 percent of boomers. Thirty-eight percent those ages 18-46 are personally financing the cost of long-term care for aging or informed parents or relatives vs. 30 percent of boomers. The discrepancy may be due to the fact that it is more likely the parents of boomers have passed on.
· Only 37 percent of wealthy parents have fully disclosed their family’s level of wealth to their children. The three generations expressed being more comfortable talking about wealth, but they either haven’t gotten around to it, or are concerned it will negatively impact their children’s work ethic. Those over 67, meanwhile, said they were taught never to discuss wealth with anyone.
· Sixty-one percent of high net worth parents are not fully confident their children are well-prepared to handle any financial inheritance, with boomers expressing the confidence (32 percent vs. 52 percent of Gen-Xers and Millennials and 54 percent of seniors ages 67 and older,
· Not surprisingly, Gen-Xers and Millennials favor growth over protecting principal.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.