Generation Y millionaires take more risks, take more advice

Baby Boomers looking a little dull...

Next-gen millionaires are more bullish investors than their older generation counterparts, with almost four in ten buying into high-risk asset classes such as venture capital and derivatives.

That’s according to new research by US-based financial services firm Fidelity Investments, which surveyed over 540 individuals with investable assets of at least $1 million.

It found that eighty-one per cent of Generation X and Y millionaires – those up to 48 years old – said they preferred to pursue aggressive investment strategies, compared to 27 per cent of the baby boomers.

Wealthy next-gens also had a more diversified investment portfolio than the older generation. 51 per cent of Gen X and Y millionaires, for example, owned foreign currency; 43 per cent invested in international individual securities; 39 per cent bought into venture capital; and 38 per cent chose derivatives. The baby boomers’ figures (respectively) were 6, 27, 12 and 10 per cent.

In the short term, the next-gens surveyed planned on making changes to their portfolio, while 39 per cent of the baby boomers were more conservative and didn’t plan on adding anything until the end of the year.

But the younger HNWs weren’t just more bullish about investing, they were also more confident about their own abilities, with 71 per cent considering themselves knowledgeable about investing, compared to 44 per cent of their old-generation counterparts.

Asking for advice

Perhaps surprisingly, then, the report found that next-gens millionaires were also more likely than the older generation to turn to financial advisers for investment recommendations, with 92 per cent using a financial adviser, compared to 68 per cent of the baby boomers.

According to the study, the financial crisis was the main reason why the young HNWs sought financial advice, with 69 per cent of those surveyed admitting doing so because of more volatile market conditions. This compared to only 17 per cent of the baby boomers.

However, next-gens remained very much involved in their investment decisions, with those working with an adviser saying they independently managed almost half of their own assets. In comparison, baby boomers HNWs who have financial advisers said they managed only a third of their wealth by themselves.

61 per cent of the Gen X and Y millionaires also said they made their own investment decisions but used advisers as sources of information and to get a second opinion. Only six per cent admitted to delegate their decisions entirely to an adviser, compared to one in five of the baby-boom generation.

According to the report, next-gen millionaires tended to use other people as their sounding board when making investment decisions. Apart from their advisers, they were more likely to turn to family and friends, with 23 per cent of those surveyed doing so, compared to only thirteen per cent of the older generation.

Work hard, play hard

But younger millionaires aren’t just focused on how to maximise their money, the research found. In fact, they were more likely to indulge in comforts than the older generation. Eighty-seven per cent of Gen X and Y HNWs, for example, spent their holidays abroad every year, compared to only 56 per cent of the baby boomers. Similarly, 63 per cent of the next-gens millionaire owned a second home and nearly four in ten flew first class, compared to 21 and 5 per cent respectively for the older generation.

And if they liked to spend more, Gen X and Y millionaires also liked to give more, as they averaged $54,000 in annual philanthropic donations, compared to $12,000 for their older counterparts. They also volunteered more of their time to charitable causes, with 82 per cent volunteering or serving on charity boards, compared to less than 50 per cent for the baby boomers. 

This piece first appeared on Spear's Magazine

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Arsène Wenger: how can an intelligent manager preside over such a hollowed-out team?

The Arsenal manager faces a frustrating legacy.

Sport is obviously not all about winning, but it is about justified hope. That ­distinction has provided, until recently, a serious defence of Arsène Wenger’s Act II – the losing part. Arsenal haven’t won anything big for 13 years. But they have been close enough (and this is a personal view) to sustain the experience of investing emotionally in the story. Hope turning to disappointment is fine. It’s when the hope goes, that’s the problem.

Defeat takes many forms. In both 2010 and 2011, Arsenal lost over two legs to Barcelona in the Champions League. Yet these were rich and rewarding sporting experiences. In the two London fixtures of those ties, Arsenal drew 2-2 and won 2-1 against the most dazzling team in the world. Those nights reinvigorated my pride in sport. The Emirates Stadium had the best show in town. Defeat, when it arrived in Barcelona, was softened by gratitude. We’d been entertained, more than entertained.

Arsenal’s 5-1 surrender to Bayern Munich on 15 February was very different. In this capitulation by instalments, the fascination was macabre rather than dramatic. Having long given up on discerning signs of life, we began the post-mortem mid-match. As we pored over the entrails, the curiosity lay in the extent of the malady that had brought down the body. The same question, over and over: how could such an intelligent, deep-thinking manager preside over a hollowed-out team? How could failings so obvious to outsiders, the absence of steel and resilience, evade the judgement of the boss?

There is a saying in rugby union that forwards (the hard men) determine who wins, and the backs (the glamour boys) decide by how much. Here is a footballing equivalent: midfielders define matches, attacking players adorn them and defenders get the blame. Yet Arsenal’s players as good as vacated the midfield. It is hard to judge how well Bayern’s playmakers performed because they were operating in a vacuum; it looked like a morale-boosting training-ground drill, free from the annoying presence of opponents.

I have always been suspicious of the ­default English critique which posits that mentally fragile teams can be turned around by licensed on-field violence – a good kicking, basically. Sporting “character” takes many forms; physical assertiveness is only one dimension.

Still, it remains baffling, Wenger’s blind spot. He indulges artistry, especially the mercurial Mesut Özil, beyond the point where it serves the player. Yet he won’t protect the magicians by surrounding them with effective but down-to-earth talents. It has become a diet of collapsing soufflés.

What held back Wenger from buying the linchpin midfielder he has lacked for many years? Money is only part of the explanation. All added up, Arsenal do spend: their collective wage bill is the fourth-highest in the League. But Wenger has always been reluctant to lavish cash on a single star player, let alone a steely one. Rather two nice players than one great one.

The power of habit has become debilitating. Like a wealthy but conservative shopper who keeps going back to the same clothes shop, Wenger habituates the same strata of the transfer market. When he can’t get what he needs, he’s happy to come back home with something he’s already got, ­usually an elegant midfielder, tidy passer, gets bounced in big games, prone to going missing. Another button-down blue shirt for a drawer that is well stuffed.

It is almost universally accepted that, as a business, Arsenal are England’s leading club. Where their rivals rely on bailouts from oligarchs or highly leveraged debt, Arsenal took tough choices early and now appear financially secure – helped by their manager’s ability to engineer qualification for the Champions League every season while avoiding excessive transfer costs. Does that count for anything?

After the financial crisis, I had a revealing conversation with the owner of a private bank that had sailed through the turmoil. Being cautious and Swiss, he explained, he had always kept more capital reserves than the norm. As a result, the bank had made less money in boom years. “If I’d been a normal chief executive, I’d have been fired by the board,” he said. Instead, when the economic winds turned, he was much better placed than more bullish rivals. As a competitive strategy, his winning hand was only laid bare by the arrival of harder times.

In football, however, the crash never came. We all wrote that football’s insane spending couldn’t go on but the pace has only quickened. Even the Premier League’s bosses confessed to being surprised by the last extravagant round of television deals – the cash that eventually flows into the hands of managers and then the pockets of players and their agents.

By refusing to splash out on the players he needed, whatever the cost, Wenger was hedged for a downturn that never arrived.

What an irony it would be if football’s bust comes after he has departed. Imagine the scenario. The oligarchs move on, finding fresh ways of achieving fame, respectability and the protection achieved by entering the English establishment. The clubs loaded with debt are forced to cut their spending. Arsenal, benefiting from their solid business model, sail into an outright lead, mopping up star talent and trophies all round.

It’s often said that Wenger – early to invest in data analytics and worldwide scouts; a pioneer of player fitness and lifestyle – was overtaken by imitators. There is a second dimension to the question of time and circumstance. He helped to create and build Arsenal’s off-field robustness, even though football’s crazy economics haven’t yet proved its underlying value.

If the wind turns, Arsène Wenger may face a frustrating legacy: yesterday’s man and yet twice ahead of his time. 

Ed Smith is a journalist and author, most recently of Luck. He is a former professional cricketer and played for both Middlesex and England.

This article first appeared in the 24 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The world after Brexit