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The perennial Millennial dilemma

Any parent will confess to this, I suggest.

That is, you find yourself saying things to your children that you hated your parents saying to you. Things like: “Do as I say, not as I do”, “sit up straight” and classically “don’t squander your money, you should think about saving it… for a rainy day.”

You know what I mean.

It is interesting though with the younger generation, the so-called Millennials, now many of them parents themselves, how these messages have filtered down the generations. And it appears to be all about messages.

A key piece of research by the Family Building Society with Blue Marble Research entitled The Generational Divide? has revealed some rather startling facts about the relationship between the three financially active generations.

For the purposes of the research this means those people who were born between 1980 and 1999 making them aged between 19 and 38. Those before that – Generation X – aged 38-58 and then the baby Boomers born between 1940 and 1960.

As Family Building Society’s very own CEO, Mark Bogard points out in his opening notes: “It’s amazing in life how quickly you find yourself going from being the “young gun” to the “old fart.””

One of the messages which comes through strongly is that the older two generations quite simply aren’t listening enough to the Millennials.

They are different. Millennials are, as the research points out defined by two cultural facets – they are the first digital natives and they embark on adulthood in a very different and much harsher financial environment.

At the older end of the Millennial scale there are many among them who paid no more than £1000pa in tuition fees  and were able to take advantage of 100 per cent mortgages before the 2008 crash.

At the other – young people embarking on careers with the millstone of £30,000 in student debt who have low expectations. In property terms these are called Generation Rent. They are phlegmatic about having to adjust to a ‘new normal’.

Having said that, the research is quite clear that home ownership among this group remains a major aspiration. Those who have bought, being digitally minded tend to use their peer group to answer their many questions: How much can I borrow? Where do I borrow? Where to get good advice? Where to buy? And so on.

In terms of financial planning, the research shows Millennials are not engaging in longer term financial planning as they have more pressing priorities. Generation X is very conscious of pension provision – or lack of it.

Finally, far from its reputation as a generation of witless social media-obsessed narcissists who have a prolonged dependency on Mum and Dad, Millennials it seems are responding to economic instability by wishing to tackle life’s major events more purposefully than their forebears.

We think we should listen more to the needs of the Millennials – we might learn something.


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