For all the hype about the upcoming Presidential election in 2020, there is something coming earlier that year that is much bigger. And its ramifications on the global economy will last for decades. What am I talking about? The first wave of millennials is about to turn 40.
That’s right; this super-caffeinated, iPhone tapping, highly educated generation is rapidly approaching – dare I say it – middle age! They own houses and have kids. In so many ways, they are as conventional as prior generations. It wasn’t easy, though. They’re still behind where Gen-X was at this age mainly due to coming of age during the Great Recession and have an overload of student debt. Nevertheless, it has been both fascinating and joyful to see this generation reaching their enormous potential. As a Gen-X’er, I am privileged to be part of an amazing networking group whose members include lots of people under the age of 40. (Lol, this networking group used to be “an under 40” group until, that is, the original members started turning 40) I’ve seen firsthand their professional development; from having their first job out of college, rising to the C suite, and starting their own businesses.
This weird, unfair, and stereotypical view of millennials living in their parents’ basement has got to go. Your next doctor, lawyer, accountant, or plumber may very well be under the age of 40. And they are not seeking anyone’s approval or permission to move up the socioeconomic ranks of America. I say good for them! They’re even more numerous than the baby boomers, if you didn’t know.
In the 2020 election, every single millennial will be old enough to vote for the first time. This will have major ramifications on politics. Politicians who can bend their ear are targeting them with pinpoint accuracy through social media. Senator Elizabeth Warren is talking about her plan to forgive up to 50K of student debt for all millennials. Policy initiatives aimed at equal pay, curbing pollution, and anti-gun violence speak directly to this generation. No wonder these are the things that the Democratic primary candidates are focusing on. You can’t help but feel that the Dems have basically given up on boomers and doubled down on millennials.
The world of finance is changing too. Going back to when boomers were at the accumulation stage of growth assets, their influx of cash into the stock market propped up stocks for decades. Demographics seem to be repeating with the millennials entering full-on asset accumulations via 401(k)’s and college funding accounts for their own kids. But there are also fewer publicly traded companies to buy stock in. During the late 1990’s, there were over 7,000 publicly traded companies. Today that number is in the 3,000’s. Between the numbers of how many millennials there are and how few stocks there are, I will put forth that this is one of the most dependable tail winds that stocks have going for them.
Millennials are voracious consumers of financial services. You can’t miss all of the “fintech” apps and offerings from both major financial institutions and new independent disruptors. Not all of them will hit their mark; JP Morgan just scrapped its millennial-focused app FINN. Others, like Wealthfront and Betterment, are burning through venture capital until they can reach profitable scale. Yet, others that don’t even include a distant path to profitability in their business plan are jumping into the fray. Lots of experimenting will go on for a long time in financial services until businesses find the best ways to reach this generation.
But make no mistake about it: while the marketing, costs, and delivery of financial products and services to millennials may be different, the actual use cases of these will be very similar to those of prior generations; invest, grow wealth, spend down assets in retirement.
The impact that this generation has had on the workplace, entertainment, housing market, and so many others has been felt deeply. But it isn’t an event. It’s ongoing. And they'll be climbing the socioeconomic ranks way after the 2020 Presidential election.
Have a great weekend!
Video below for parents who want to save for their child(ren)'s college education. I'll have more videos like this coming out soon: