Market Insight: The Next Generation of investors
A lot has been written recently about Millennials and investing. First off, I want to point out that they do not like being called Millennials, they prefer the moniker “Next Gen” or “Next Generation.” Regarding investing, it is often noted that, while the majority of this new monster generation considers themselves savers rather than spenders, they do not consider themselves to be investors.
This has Wall Street in a tizzy trying to invent new products that will appeal to the Next Gen. Of course, some say that the problem is irreparable, blaming things like lower wages, higher rents, and huge student loan repayments as insurmountable impediments. They needn’t be so worried. This new generation will become investors in time. They will have to invest in order to survive. They are just too young. I doubt seriously that any of their parents were thinking about investments at Woodstock. In time, investing will become important and they will bring their own values to the process.
So, how will they invest? The short answer is: much differently than their parents. The baby-boomers loved mutual funds and even annuities. These investments will not be popular with their children. Like Lloyd Dobler in the movie “Say Anything,” the Millennials don’t want to “buy anything bought, sold, or processed.” They will eschew some of the high-cost investment products that dominated the markets when their parents were investing.
So, rather than packaged products that are sold by someone making a commission, the meat of their portfolios as they move towards retirement in 2055 will be things like low-cost Exchange Traded Funds Index Funds and individual stocks. They’re aware that their dad bought a high-cost annuity from a fraternity brother and they won’t forget how badly that turned out.
The Next Generation will want a more organic approach. They will want the ingredients to be hand-picked and they will want them to be healthy. One would expect that technology companies will be favorites, but as these kids age they will come to appreciate the stability provided by more conservative stock choices like consumer products and utilities. Many of these novice investors will seek to do it on their own, using Google to find information. The smarter ones will seek out a professional fiduciary to manage their assets, one that does not sell a product, one whose interests are aligned with their own.
In the end, this new generation will be the largest and wealthiest generation of all time. They are set to inherit the largest wealth transfer in history. Their more frugal approach to consumption will lead to a heretofore unheard-of level of investment. Frankly, Wall Street needs to be concerned, not about the Millennials never investing, but about the way they will invest. These kids aren’t scared of stocks, they are scared of Wall Street — and rightfully so!
Scott A. Grant is President of Standfast Asset Management in Ponte Vedra Beach. He welcomes your comments or questions at email@example.com.