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What in the world are those kids thinking? © Uwe Krejci / Getty
May 30, 2017

What in the world are those kids thinking?

Much has been written about generational wealth transfer and its challenges for wealthy families. As such, tips on how to increase a family’s chances of retaining its wealth beyond a generation or two is a frequent topic.

But deeper thinking on the matter comes down to one simple and ultimate question: What in the world are those kids thinking? And what world, exactly, are they living in?

We’ve all heard of the “great wealth transfer,” meaning the roughly $30 trillion expected to pass from the boomer generation to their children and grandchildren. The beneficiaries of this will of course be the generations known as Gen X, Gen Y (a.k.a. millennials) and Gen Z (a.k.a. the iGen generation).

Millennials born 1980 to 1995, are now officially the largest living generation in America. Gen Z, born after 1995, are looking to set their own records: They comprise over 25 percent of the U.S. population. People under 40 are about 54 percent of the U.S. population!

Millennials now solidly comprise the younger workforce but still have employment challenges. As a group, they have had it pretty rough finding jobs and being able to afford homes and pursue life’s opportunities. The Great Recession was partly responsible, and misplaced expectations could be another cause. However, these youth will have plenty of time to figure things out, as they’re expected to easily live to age 100 and beyond.

Gen Z, moreover, could live well up to 125-plus years as a norm. Advances in genetics and personalized medicine are game-changers for both groups’ longevity.

Where they differ is that Gen Z has less of an attention span than Gen Y; reports indicate an average attention span for the former of a mere eight seconds.. This might mean they are less focused, but on the other hand they have been observed to be better multi-taskers. They’re comfortable with the digital and mobile world and want to work independently. They are very global minded and look toward the future. They want to improve the world. And, while both groups are entrepreneurial, Gen Z appears more so.

They are very global minded.

In the context of generational wealth transfer, what will happen when future generations live beyond age 100 or more? Is retirement at 65 really a goal?

Would they want do the same type of job throughout their careers? At what age will marriage and starting a family become important? Will these young people spend their lives in the same part of the world? We think it’s going to be a very different life, work and family landscape for these people.

The research is very clear that most generational wealth that is transferred is generally gone after two generations, and it’s all but assured that it’s gone after three generations. Imagine, then, the potential global political, societal and financial changes that may take place over the next 200 years.

If you are planning for your own family wealth to continue on for a few generations, the challenge you face really is more complex than the nuts and bolts of financial accounts, investments and legal entities.

There are several books and online reading available that get deep into generations’ differences and their members’ understanding of and relationship with the world, on working and on wealth. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with such concepts to help deepen your understanding and relationship with your own younger family members.

It’s widely acknowledged that communication and trust are the foundation for improving families’ chances for successful wealth transfer. So, start the discussions within your own family early, with your children and grandchildren; and keep those discussions going throughout these younger family members’ lives.

It’s important to know how they think, how they view the world and what values are being instilled in them. Their current values come not only from their family but also from peers and from their vast access to worldwide information through the devices they literally have at hand. It’s easier now than ever to stay connected to those you love, no matter where in the world they are. We hope you do.

¹The Williams Group, http://www.thewilliamsgroup.org/
²https://advertising.microsoft.com/en/wwdocs/user/display/cl/researchreport/31966/en/microsoft-attentionspans-research-report.pdf
³The Williams Group, http://www.thewilliamsgroup.org/

Marie A. Moore is a financial advisor with the Wealth Management division of Morgan Stanley in Dallas, Texas. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC., www.sipc.org. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engage Worth to feature this profile. Marie A. Moore may only transact business in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from registration, morganstanleyfa.com/themooregroup. Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Marie A. Moore is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration. Certified Financial Planner of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S. CRC1677319 01/17.

This article was originally published in the May–July 2017 issue of Worth.

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