If you are a millennial or Gen Xer, you are part of the great wealth transfer. Baby boomers will pass on $30 trillion to their heirs, according to Accenture. This inheritance will be the greatest wealth transfer between generations in history.
Millennials – adults under 35 – could use the money. They have the lowest savings rate of any generation before them. But even with the inheritance, if the performance of previous generations of inheritors is any indication, the next generation should not expect to be rich. Seventy percent of the second generation rich squander the family wealth, according to wealth consultancy the Williams Group.
Will Millennials be different?
Some financial advisors consider millennials to be heading for a train crash when it comes to growing family wealth. As mentioned, they already have the lowest savings rate.
According to Moody’s Analytics, millennials have a savings rate of negative two percent. Those 35 to 44, save 3 percent of their income while those 45 to 54 save 6 percent. The oldest generation, 55 and over, save 13 percent. Clearly, there is an ongoing slide in intergenerational savings.
In all fairness, the 2008 financial crisis knocked down the value of many investment portfolios.
Better Prepared Heirs
A major reason family wealth is lost is due to unprepared heirs, according to the book Preparing Heirs. When it comes to financial and investment education, Millennials and Gen-X are the most prepared generation.
Will the next generation be the first to grow the family’s wealth? Here’s how they are different.
Investment education – Many young people today attend investment seminars. Thanks to mobile technology and low fee online trading, many are already building investment portfolios, some as early as high school.
Financially Savvy – Most students have taken at least one financial course, while others have specialized in finance.
Born entrepreneurs – Entrepreneurship is one of the most popular courses taken by students today.
Risk takers – In a global business market, business leaders must know how to grow a business while managing risk and uncertainty. Gen X is trained in risk management. Unlike the baby boomer generation who hit the bars when business decisions got tough, they thrive on facing down risk and problem-solving.
The Family Office
The greatest innovation in inheritance and the one that could save the wealth of the second generation rich is the family office. These private investment advisory firms have been designed to help wealthy families manage money, including investing, philanthropic activities, financial education, accounting and property management.
They also deal with family governance issues and help lower the risk of inheritance battles among family members. Their fees can be as high as $1 million annually. The number of family offices has doubled over the last two decades.
Intergenerational wealth management is the number one reason to form a family office, according to the Global Family Office Report 2014.
“In Asia, we are seeing more and more families professionalising their family structures, implementing a governance framework for the family, the enterprise and the management of their assets, some of them by establishing a family office.
This is one of the major trends as the second and third generations further assume roles of leadership within the family businesses in the region,” said Kathryn Shih, Head of APAC, UBS Wealth Management.
Asian family offices are more likely to co-invest with other offices, says the report, which cites Hong Kong and Singapore as key markets for family offices in Asia. Besides managing money smarter, family offices have an above average market return, which could help boost inter-generational wealth.
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