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Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Well-Off Millennials Uneasy About Their Wealth - 11 5 2021 10 33 25 AM

Millennials with a net worth of $100K or more are nearly twice as likely as Xers to feel guilty about their wealth. They’re also much more likely to be working with a financial advisor for help with financial decisions, according to a new survey. (Spectrem Group)

NH: This report offers some interesting findings on the differences between Gen-X and Millennial investors.

For one, Millennials are much more likely than Xers to say that they’re interested in new types of investing, such as cryptocurrency and NFTs. This mirrors a new Bankrate survey that reported nearly half of Millennials (49%) say they’d be comfortable investing in crypto, compared to 37% of Xers.

Millennials also have different attitudes towards financial advisors. Both generations are comfortable with using an advisor and believe that investment management is the most important service an advisor can provide.

But Millennials are more likely than Xers to say that they also rely on their advisor for help with making general financial decisions (82% vs. 65%). They're seeking step-by-step tutorials for life skills like budgeting and saving that earlier generations just figured they'd pick up along the way.

Xers, in contrast, seek advisors for help with specific issues, such as retirement planning and tax planning.

Given these differences, it makes sense that Millennials are more likely to consider a banker or an accountant their primary advisor, while Xers grant that label to independent financial planners, investment managers, and full-service brokers.

Those surveyed all have a net worth of $100K or more. But Millennials are nearly twice as likely as Xers say they feel guilty about their wealth. Why?

The report speculates that it’s because Millennials are much more concerned about income inequality: 76% think it’s a big problem, which drops to 52% among Xers.

I’d also wager that among well-off Millennials, there’s a higher likelihood that more of their wealth was inherited rather than earned. As I noted in a recent piece (see "Xer Wealth Still Lags Way Behind"), the rising affluence of older adults has made inheritance an increasingly important source of wealth gains among younger households.

Millennials are inheriting inequality to a much greater degree than the generations before them.

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ABOUT NEIL HOWE

Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.