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

Read more by Giulia Cambieri

Photograph: Getty Images

This is a story from the team at Spears magazine.

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This Ada Lovelace Day, let’s celebrate women in tech while confronting its sexist culture

In an industry where men hold most of the jobs and write most of the code, celebrating women's contributions on one day a year isn't enough. 

Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first computer program. In the 1840s Charles Babbage, now known as the “father of the computer”, designed (though never built) the “Analytical Engine”, a machine which could accurately and reproducibly calculate the answers to maths problems. While translating an article by an Italian mathematician about the machine, Lovelace included a written algorithm for which would allow the engine to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.

Around 170 years later, Whitney Wolfe, one of the founders of dating app Tinder, was allegedly forced to resign from the company. According to a lawsuit she later filed against the app and its parent company, she had her co-founder title removed because, the male founders argued, it would look “slutty”, and because “Facebook and Snapchat don’t have girl founders. It just makes it look like Tinder was some accident". (They settled out of court.)

Today, 13 October, is Ada Lovelace day – an international celebration of inspirational women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It’s lucky we have this day of remembrance, because, as Wolfe’s story demonstrates, we also spend a lot of time forgetting and sidelining women in tech. In the wash of pale male founders of the tech giants that rule the industry,we don't often think about the women that shaped its foundations: Judith Estrin, one of the designers of TCP/IP, for example, or Radia Perlman, inventor of the spanning-tree protocol. Both inventions sound complicated, and they are – they’re some of the vital building blocks that allow the internet to function. 

And yet David Streitfield, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, someow felt it accurate to write in 2012: “Men invented the internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolised Mr Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died.”

Perhaps we forget about tech's founding women because the needle has swung so far into the other direction. A huge proportion – perhaps even 90 per cent - of the world’s code is written by men. At Google, women fill 17 per cent of technical roles. At Facebook, 15 per cent. Over 90 per cent of the code respositories on Github, an online service used throughout the industry, are owned by men. Yet it's also hard to believe that this erasure of women's role in tech is completely accidental. As Elissa Shevinsky writes in the introduction to a collection of essays on gender in tech, Lean Out: “This myth of the nerdy male founder has been perpetuated by men who found this story favourable."

Does it matter? It’s hard to believe that it doesn’t. Our society is increasingly defined and delineated by code and the things it builds. Small slip-ups, like the lack of a period tracker on the original Apple Watch, or fitness trackers too big for some women’s wrists, gesture to the fact that these technologies are built by male-dominated teams, for a male audience.

In Lean Out, one essay written by a Twitter-based “start-up dinosaur” (don’t ask) explains how dangerous it is to allow one small segment of society to built the future for the rest of us:

If you let someone else build tomorrow, tomorrow will belong to someone else. They will build a better tomorrow for everyone like them… For tomorrow to be for everyone, everyone needs to be the one [sic] that build it.

So where did all the women go? How did we get from a rash of female inventors to a situation where the major female presence at an Apple iPhone launch is a model’s face projected onto a screen and photoshopped into a smile by a male demonstrator? 

Photo: Apple.

The toxic culture of many tech workplaces could be a cause or an effect of the lack of women in the industry, but it certainly can’t make make it easy to stay. Behaviours range from the ignorant - Martha Lane-Fox, founder of, often asked “what happens if you get pregnant?” at investors' meetings - to the much more sinister. An essay in Lean Out by Katy Levinson details her experiences of sexual harassment while working in tech: 

I have had interviewers attempt to solicit sexual favors from me mid-interview and discuss in significant detail precisely what they would like to do. All of these things have happened either in Silicon Valley working in tech, in an educational institution to get me there, or in a technical internship.

Others featured in the book joined in with the low-level sexism and racism  of their male colleagues in order to "fit in" and deflect negative attention. Erica Joy writes that while working in IT at the University of Alaska as the only woman (and only black person) on her team, she laughed at colleagues' "terribly racist and sexist jokes" and "co-opted their negative attitudes”. 

The casual culture and allegedly meritocratic hierarchies of tech companies may actually be encouraging this discriminatory atmosphere. HR and the strict reporting procedures of large corporates at least give those suffering from discrimination a place to go. A casual office environment can discourage reporting or calling out prejudiced humour or remarks. Brook Shelley, a woman who transitioned while working in tech, notes: "No one wants to be the office mother". So instead, you join in and hope for the best. 

And, of course, there's no reason why people working in tech would have fewer issues with discrimination than those in other industries. A childhood spent as a "nerd" can also spawn its own brand of misogyny - Katherine Cross writes in Lean Out that “to many of these men [working in these fields] is all too easy to subconciously confound women who say ‘this is sexist’ with the young girls who said… ‘You’re gross and a creep and I’ll never date you'". During GamerGate, Anita Sarkeesian was often called a "prom queen" by trolls. 

When I spoke to Alexa Clay, entrepreneur and co-author of the Misfit Economy, she confirmed that there's a strange, low-lurking sexism in the start-up economy: “They have all very open and free, but underneath it there's still something really patriarchal.” Start-ups, after all, are a culture which celebrates risk-taking, something which women are societally discouraged from doing. As Clay says, 

“Men are allowed to fail in tech. You have these young guys who these old guys adopt and mentor. If his app doesn’t work, the mentor just shrugs it off. I would not be able ot get away with that, and I think women and minorities aren't allowed to take the same amount of risks, particularly in these communities. If you fail, no one's saying that's fine.

The conclusion of Lean Out, and of women in tech I have spoken to, isn’t that more women, over time, will enter these industries and seamlessly integrate – it’s that tech culture needs to change, or its lack of diversity will become even more severe. Shevinsky writes:

The reason why we don't have more women in tech is not because of a lack of STEM education. It's because too many high profile and influential individuals and subcultures within the tech industry have ignored or outright mistreated women applicants and employees. To be succinct—the problem isn't women, it's tech culture.

Software engineer Kate Heddleston has a wonderful and chilling metaphor about the way we treat women in STEM. Women are, she writes, the “canary in the coal mine”. If one dies, surely you should take that as a sign that the mine is uninhabitable – that there’s something toxic in the air. “Instead, the industry is looking at the canary, wondering why it can’t breathe, saying ‘Lean in, canary, lean in!’. When one canary dies they get a new one because getting more canaries is how you fix the lack of canaries, right? Except the problem is that there isn't enough oxygen in the coal mine, not that there are too few canaries.” We need more women in STEM, and, I’d argue, in tech in particular, but we need to make sure the air is breatheable first. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.