Millennials more conservative than you might think

Posted On June 6, 2013

Merrill Lynch recently released a white paper Millennials and Money that surveyed some of the most affluent members of the youngest generation currently in the workforce and found them to be at odds with many of the stereotypes typically applied to this group.

Michael Liersch, director of behavioral science for Merrill Lynch writes:

These young people aren’t rebelling against the traditional investment approaches advocated by their parents—not only do most say they would have no objection to using their parents’ financial advisors, they are also most likely to describe their investment philosophy as “buy and hold.” They aren’t turning to their friends and peers in their digitally managed social networks for investment guidance, and don’t uniformly spurn professional advice. To the contrary, eager to learn, they seem to value expertise wherever they can find it.

Liersch’s research has identified a niche where Millennials are perhaps more conservative and more like their Boomer parents than had previously been thought.  Of course, niche is the key word.  This piece targets a small segment of the population – primarily individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 with investible assets of more than $3 million.  But the findings are still fascinating.

When reading through Liersch’s observations I’m struck by the seeming dichotomies of a generation that is, like its Xer peers, extremely skeptical and needing to be “shown not told” while at the same time willing to rely on the same advisors as their parents.  Though, assuming affluence begets affluence, the “show me” hurdle has technically already been cleared. Still – the fact that they aren’t turning to generational peers is a fairly significant shift from the norm.

It’s a long piece, but worth the read – and not just for financial advisors.  It demonstrates the importance of not only understanding generational norms, but also in being able to determine the scenarios where they may not hold true so that you can approach a situation with the proper frame of mind.

Categories: Blog, Financial Services