I recently attended a webinar entitled “Millennials, Money and the Active Pursuit of Happiness.”  I must admit the title intrigued me and so I registered.  This was a webinar based on the research recently completed by Wells Fargo and a study they conducted on over 1,700 Millennials.

I am not big into labels, but I am a firm believer in how different generations are different for different reasons.  The Greatest Generation is often associated with selfless giving, sacrifice and humility.  The Baby Boomers were more self-focused and often referred to as the “me” generation.  The Millennials, born between the years 1981 through 1996, however are often misunderstood and mischaracterized. For what it is worth, the Millennial Generation is an even larger force than the Baby Boomer Generation totaling about 80 million people vs. 78 million, so you better get to know them

The Millennial Generation is said to be living in their parent’s basement and playing video games or binge watching the latest Netflix series. These characterizations are as wrong as previous generation’s views of the next one coming up and how they behaved differently.  I was aware of this before attending the webinar because I have been interested in them for a while and find them to be quite different from the stereotypes foisted upon them.

What I learned from the webinar is that unlike my generation and that of my parents, the active pursuit of wealth and independence is much less important to Millennials than happiness and doing good.  They are very “others” oriented and more than half of them surveyed would like to use their money to make the world a better place; they are just not sure how to do that more effectively.  Financial security is a top priority.  However almost 7 out of 10 have anxiety about money.  Millennials were in their formative years during the global financial crisis and consequently saw up close and personal how it impacted their family’s financial situation.  Perhaps a parent lost their job, maybe they had to tighten the belt with spending, or maybe they lost their home.  All of these things helped to create the anxiety about money and their desire to have some sense of security.  In addition, following the great recession, 53% say they will never be comfortable investing in the stock market.

This generation grew up with technology that is now ubiquitous such as smart phones and social media.  Consequently, they are very connected and engaged socially.  Amazingly 94% say that making a difference for the greater good is important to them.  This startingly large statistic is one of the things that gives me hope about our future and simply flies in the face of the misconceptions about who they are.  There is reason for optimism.

If you dismiss them as irrelevant, here is one that will blow you away:  According to the Brookings Institution by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.  Ignore them or discount them at your peril.

Our goal is to understand them and be in position to help them align their financial resources with their deeply held social concerns and point them in the direction of meaning and purpose.  They are smart enough to know what they don’t know, so they are looking for financial coaches that can assist.  I have regular conversations with the Millennial children of our clients who will check in when they are facing big decisions, instead of going on-line.  I love these calls and feel fortunate to help.  We are uniquely prepared to assist, and we find happiness in serving in that capacity.