The great wealth transfer from Baby Boomers to Millennials has begun, with an estimated approximately $41 trillion to change hands.
More cynical cultural critics will point out, tongue-in-cheek, that Millennials and Baby Boomers, despite the gulf on the age spectrum, are similar in their penchant for self-absorption. “While every millennial might seem like an oversharing Kardashian, posting vacation photos on Facebook is actually less obnoxious than 1960s couples’ trapping friends in their houses to watch their terrible vacation slide shows,” noted Time magazine’s Joel Stein in his instantly-gone-viral cover story about Millennials as “The Me Me Me Generation.”
But when it comes to personal finances, perhaps it is all about them as far as financial advisors are concerned. Baby Boomers are where the money is. They comprised 26 percent of the U.S. population at the end of last year, according to the Census Bureau, and as such, they control a significant portion of the investable assets in the world’s biggest economy. They also represent the largest percentage of investors to currently rely on financial advisors.
As for Millennials, at 80 million strong, they have now surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation with the potential to become the wealthiest generation as well. While this generation, which came of age during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, is saddled with unique financial challenges such as unprecedented student debt, which is forcing many to delay many adult rites of passage such as starting a family and buying a home.
But the great wealth transfer from Baby Boomers to Millennials has begun, with an estimated approximately $41 trillion to change hands.
Two Spectrem Group generational studies, Millennial Investor Personas and Baby Boomer Investor Personas, identify five primary character traits for each investor segment that run the gamut from independent investor to advisor-dependent. Each study is based on quantitative monthly research with investors with between $100,000 and $25 million of net worth (not including primary residence), including interviews with more than 12,000 investors.
Among surveyed Baby Boomers, one-third can be termed the Big Middle. These are the prototypical affluent Baby Boomer. From wealth level to age and risk tolerance, they can be said to be resolutely average. Twenty-one percent consider themselves Cowboy types. They are more aggressively engaged with the market for fun and for profit. An equal percentage comes under the heading of, Advice, Please. They are more advisor-dependent and will not make an investment move with consulting their financial advisor or a financial professional. Fifteen percent are Moneybags, an investor who has struck it rich. Finally, there is the Rock On investor, the comparatively young Baby Boomer who is still working.
The Millennial investor types, likewise, span the risk tolerance gamut. As with their older counterparts, there are segments of Millennials more fretful about their financial futures and others, due to their age and with more of their work lives ahead of them, who are more aggressive and self-confident.
The highest percentage (23 percent) can be termed the Climber. They tend to have high-profile, high paying jobs as well as an aggressive investor mindset. Just over one-in-five are On My Own. These are the least wealthy of their cohorts, but they are aggressive savers and possess a keen sense of social responsibility. The No Worries Millennial investor is the wealthiest of their cohorts. Half credit an inheritance as a significant portion of their wealth, while two-thirds credit being at the right place at the right time. They comprise 19 percent of the Millennial investor groups.
An equal percentage can be termed Family Matters. These comprise young families worried about ensuring their financial futures, while the Worriers represent 18 percent. Despite being well-educated and with potentially high-paying college degrees, this group cites many personal concerns with little money saved to deal with them.
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.