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Generation Y millionaires take more risks, take more advice

Baby Boomers looking a little dull...

Photograph: Getty Images

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

Read more by Giulia Cambieri