The transfer of wealth from generation to generation is one of the key drivers of a prosperous, stable and productive society. However, there are worrying signs that Generation X (born from the early 1960s to late 1970s) and especially Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are not accumulating wealth at the same pace as their predecessors.
“Today’s young people are the largest, most educated and highest earning workforce in human history, and yet they are accumulating wealth at a frighteningly low rate,” argues Alex Cook, CEO of GCI. “I say ‘frightening’ for two reasons. One is that it is the people with skin in the game who cooperate to build a better society. Second, with human longevity on a steady upward curve, we face the challenge of a long-lived group who are unlikely to become financially independent and thus potentially creating a huge burden for the state.”
Over the past 20 years, control of wealth has shifted from the Silent Generation (50% to 14%) to the succeeding generation of Baby Boomers, who now control around 50% of wealth. This intergenerational wealth shift has continued, but is arguably less pronounced, into the next generation – Generation X has increased its control of wealth from 8% to 28% over the same 20-year period.
The pattern breaks down when we look at the Millennials, who now control only 7.3% of wealth – at a similar age, Baby Boomers already controlled 21%.
To explore why the process of transferring wealth down the generations is breaking down – and, more important, how to bridge the intergenerational wealth gap – GCI will be hosting a masterclass on Thursday 2nd September. The keynote speaker is well-known futurist Graeme Codrington, author of the best-selling books, Mind the Gap and Future-Proof Your Child.
“One of the biggest issues in developing generational wealth is concerns about how the next generation will manage their lives, their investments and financial decisions. Understanding how people older and younger than yourself see the world – and how they engage with money – is essential for opening the types of dialogues that families and businesses need to have as they build generational wealth,” says Codrington.
He is joined by Saray Khumalo, the first black woman to summit Mount Everest and to reach the South Pole on skis. Khumalo will draw on the lessons learned during her career to speak about how to build resilience and change mindsets. “To continue to build intergenerational wealth, and all that implies, we have to change the way we all think about wealth and what it means. Achieving this change will be the work of years,” she says. “I hope to provide insight into this complex process, which was fundamental in helping me reach my goals.”
During the Masterclass the GCI Team will unveil an initiative that Cook says will educate South Africa on the basics of financial planning. “This initiative will help more of our population make better decisions to get to better financial outcomes and help fix one of the most important challenges facing society, the intergenerational wealth gap,” says Cook.