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WILL GEN Y “FEED THE PIG”?

A new national online survey sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council confirmed some widespread and potentially troubling characteristics of young workers (age 25-34 now), the major segment of the Gen Y/Millennial workforce. The survey provides a foundation for the “Feed the Pig” financial literacy campaign, a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) urging that generation to build long-term financial security by thinking independently and foregoing short-term gratification through living beyond their means.

Here are some of the findings, which confirm  (or reinforce) and quantify the extent Gen Yers are led by peer pressure, fear of not belonging, and the attitude that in an uncertain and volatile world, grab what you can now. (As the saying goes, “Life is short; start with dessert.”)

  • 78% model their financial habits on their friends’ habits.
  • 66% want to keep pace with where friends live.
  • 64% want to be in sync with what friends wear.
  • Similar percentages feel pressure to go to the types of places their friends eat at and use the types of gadgets they carry.
  • 61% still get financial help from their families.

As a consequences a large portion of that age groups miss bill payments and rack up substantial credit card debt paying for necessities. Financial stability means paying all their bills each month for 70%. This is a short-term view, the desire for immediate gratification.

The fact that Gen Y/Millennials are strongly influenced by peers’ lifestyle purchases indicates the depth of their need to “belong.” Also they expect to be able to rely on their families. These attributes are portrayed humorously in the ad campaign developed pro bono by kirshenbaum, bond, senecal + partners (kbs+).

But there is a very serious side emotionally, beyond financial literacy. In his essay, Looking for “Likes” in the New York Times Education Life section (11/3/13). Andrew Reiner, who teaches at Towson University in the Honors College and English Department, comments on the self-pressure he observes in his students’ generation: “ A small but growing body of evidence suggests that excessive social media use can lead to an unhealthy fixation on how one is perceived and an obsessive competitiveness. Perhaps not surprisingly, this angsting can also lead to an unhealthy quest for perfection, a social perfection, which breeds an aperture-narrowing conformity.”

A few brave souls, wrote Reiner, admitted to fearing peers’ judgments for writing something stupid, or worse, something that “set them apart.” They feared expressing a different opinion would make others dislike them. “The ultimate goal? Racking up ‘Likes.’”

Yes,of course there has been some degree of fear, peer pressure and conformity in every (young) generation. But the level of parental protection and social media exposure the youngest generations have experienced does magnify the problem.

One hopes the Feed the Pig campaign makes many converts. The independent thinking habits regarding financial security can result in growth and self-actualization in other aspects of life and work.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

 

CONTROVERSY ON THE “SHARING ECONOMY’S” VALIDITY

After Tom Friedman wrote his Opinion piece, “Welcome to the “Sharing Economy” in the New York Times (July 21, 2013), there followed a flurry of negative comments about the example start-up he chose to illustrate, Airbnb, and the concept in general. The comments tended to be about the legality and ethics of the business and Friedman’s cheerleading about entrepreneurism to save the U.S. economy.

Since I wrote a more comprehensive blog on this concept in May after viewing a discussion led by Mario Bartiromo with several “sharing economy” entrepreneurs, I am posting the link to that earlier blog here.

 My blog post takes a cross-generational slant, of course J I find the concept and business model fascinating and promising.

Where do you stand on the concept and manifestations of the “shared economy”?  Do you find it valid, appealing, marketable, scalable? Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

ANOTHER GENERATIONAL TUG O’ WAR – OVER CITIES?

This week Maria Bartiromo’s “On the Money” (CNBC, 6/23/13) had a feature on where the Baby Boomers are moving in retirement or whatever passes for their version of the next phase of life with guest Richard Florida, co-founder of “The Atlantic Cities,” reporting on their study. The Boomers’ choices seem like great ones to me and not really surprising given their desire to stay part of the action and pursue continuous learning. The questions center around the impact on Gen Y/Millennials.

The study findings indicate a definite trend of Boomers moving to large cities (New York, San Francisco, and other urban areas such as Portland, Seattle and others). The other growing choice is college towns. Madison WI, Ithaca NY and Ann Arbor MI were cited.

In addition to intellectual stimulation, the Boomers making or contemplating moves are looking for good restaurants, good health care and to be near the action. They also want to be near where their adult children are located to maintain those ties and spend time with grandchildren. And their kids are attracted to big cities where things are happening.

The potential problem for the Gen Yers, who are not trying to get away from their parents in large numbers and also want to maintain close ties, is the economics of this trend. With the usually better economically endowed Boomers buying or renting housing in those desirable urban areas and depleting the supply, the younger generation can have a difficult time affording housing where they want to go for work and an active life.

So will this turn out to be another financial obstacle for the Gen Y/Millennials that threatens the future they seek? Or is it an opportunity for the generations living in densely populated areas with so many opportunities to work together on urban issues and create more manageable lives with less commuting and the need to own cars and possessions that are readily available to the public in these areas?

As not only a congenital optimist but also a former urban planner, I am hoping for the latter. Please comment with your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

GENERATIONS & MONEY TALKS

Whatever generation you belong to, whatever stage of your business as a trusted advisor, you are more likely to encounter inter-generational challenges than ever in the past. That’s because external forces and formative influences have resulted in greater differences in how the generations view money, lifestyle, investing, philanthropy and relationships.

Money may not be the root of all evil, but it often leads to the primal “fight or flight” response.

Talks about money are often the hardest discussions among work colleagues, family members, friends and even in instances of our own self-talk. It’s an emotional thing tied up with perceptions of our self-worth or somebody else’s. For some people money is more important as a scorecard than the actual value of what they can do with the money. In families it’s tied to how much one is loved compared with others 

So it’s easy to see why money talks are avoided, even before taking such huge steps as marriage, living together and having children. Yet it’s been documented that relationships turn out happier when money conversations do take place before major decisions.

As I work with financial services professionals, I witness the tensions that can occur over money. Advisors often find it difficult to get their clients to talk with family members or business associates about money in order to do estate planning and decide how they would like to donate money philanthropically. And advisor teams may have their own money conflicts when they neglect to discuss in advance their attitudes, expectations, transitioning and exit strategies.

 So, yes, money discussions can be volatile, but it’s worse to avoid them. Instead:

 *    Establish a shared language about money.

 *    Identify and avoid “trigger words.”

 *    Understand what key words connote for each party.

 *    Identify and be aware of your own “trigger words.”

This last point may be the most important for anyone trying to facilitate the discussion, whether among clients or family.

 Phyllia Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

Financial Planning: MultiGenerational Living Is Working

Gen Y/Millennials are contributing at home as they save, not simply living on parental support. A Pew Research Center survey of over 2,000 adults in the U.S. in early 2012 yielded these statistics:

  • Over 20% of 25-34 year olds live in multigenerational households, nearly double the percentage in 1980 (the more independent Boomer and Gen X generations).
  • 24% of young adults 18-24moved back in with their parents in the last few years owing to economic conditions.
  • Even more, 41% of adults 25-29, live with or moved back in with their parents.
  • Of adults 30-34, 17% did the same.

And both parents and children report they are positive, neutral or satisfied with the arrangement.

It’s not totally a parental handout.  Survey findings indicated that 75% of the young adult children contribute to household expenses, e.g., groceries and utility bills, and 35% say they pay rent.  96% say they do chores around the house. The report didn’t specify how long the arrangements have continued and whether there will be a tipping point at which either side or both will no longer feel positive about the arrangements.

Financial planners advise that a plan be developed and agreed to by both parents and live-in young adults, including charging rent, so expectations are clear and there be an exit strategy and parents don’t jeopardize their retirement savings.

This experience is probably working because Gen Y/Millennials and their parents, to generalize, have closer relationships than any parent-child relationship in history.  That is a positive thing for the most part, but when possible, adult children should build independent and self-sufficient lives.

How long do you think the current trend will last? How does this impact work attitudes positively or negatively?

 

 

 

 

 

BROAD IMPACT OF STUDENT/EDUCATION DEBT

Not only is the amount of student debt staggering, but also it continues to grow significantly. Increasing 5% from 2009, students graduating in 2010 had an average of $25,250 in student loan debt, as has been reported widely.

As stated in the Y Pulse newsletter  (11/14/11), “Students have been raised to believe that having a college degree improves their chances of getting a job, but graduating in a poor economy, a degree doesn’t guarantee employment. They’re facing a catch-22. What’s more, when they have a hard time finding work, some are going back to graduate school, hoping that biding their time and improving their knowledge will result in a job. But meanwhile, they’re racking up more debt in school. In many cases, they’ll enter the ‘real world’ buried in debt. During the years they would normally be setting up their households right after graduation, they’ll instead be living at home trying to save money, shifting the typical consumer cycle by several years….”

Economists have been weighing in on how this affects the broader economy. And it brings many questions to my mind.

  • Of course, there are some young graduates whose parents were able to pay the education bill and are not weighed down by debt. How are they affected by the debt albatross hanging on their classmates?
  • How do you think the economics of firms would change if education debt/student debt were not a serious problem?

-       Would organizations be able to reduce entry-level salaries and compete on the basis of good and plentiful training offerings?

-       Would new employees be willing to trade higher salaries for more training and less oppressive work time pressures?

-       Would the U.S. be more competitive with other countries?

-       Would corporate social responsibility increase

  • How much are Gen Y/Millennials’ decisions about career choice, amount of education and lifestyle (whether they can afford the one they choose or not) being affected by student debt?

Please think about these questions and comment on this important issue. It deserves a healthy dialogue.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

 

PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS CHECK-IN

Many professionals focus on their clients’ goals more than they reflect and plan to reach their own goals – or even identify them. At least twice a year, it’s important to check in with yourself to ensure you are heading in your desired direction.

You can begin with these questions:

  • How would you honestly evaluate the status of your business now?
  • What role do you want to play in your business during the next 3 years? Is that role different than in the past?
  • Over the next 3 years, what do you, personally, want to achieve?
  • What are your financial goals short-term and long-term?
  • How will you achieve them?  Consider forecast trends in your marketplace.
  • Is it time to begin thinking about and planning your personal exit strategy from your business?

For some more thoughts on what to reflect on as you develop your goals, check out Jeri Quinn’s blog post http://www.drivingir.com/understand-your-service-before-defining-your-goals

Start now and make a habit of reflecting on and tracking your own goals.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot

ECONOMIC REASONS NOW AS IMPORTANT AS MENTAL ENGAGEMENT IN RETIREMENT PLANS

 After two years of economic misery, the working population of the U.S. ages 18-66 now cites financial need or expectation of need as important as mental stimulation for planning to work beyond the age of Social Security eligibility. A Sun Life Financial survey by telephone in September 2010 found that 52% of respondents expect to work at least three years longer than the eligibility age.  Sun Life calls this annual survey the “Unretirement Index.” Unretirement is defined as working at least 20 hours a week after reaching the Social Security full eligibility age (which creeps up from 65 for Traditionalists to 66 and 67 for Boomers).The overall index score reflects how respondents feel about five factors: the economy, personal finances, health, government benefits and employee benefits.

In 2008 and 2009 Sun Life surveys, the most prevalent reason given by respondents for working past age 67 was “to stay mentally engaged.” In 2010, an equal percentage answered “to earn enough money to live well.”

It will be interesting to see if better economic conditions, including a more stable financial markets environment, cause a shift back. Right now it doesn’t seem that the “simpler living” movement is taking hold, at least as a voluntary mind shift.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

TRANSITIONING: A HOT TOPIC AT THE ABA

Two hot topics among lawyers over 50 at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco August 5-8 were succession planning and anticipating and planning for what comes next for midlifers (defined as age 50-70).  Many Boomers have been putting off planning or even visioning of their next phase. A large percentage (40-60%) want to keep going either as lawyers or in some other capacity after age 65 or 70.

The "Lawyers at Midlife: Planning for and Living the Rest of Your Life" presentation on Sunday morning drew 40 people at 8:30am. The presentation by Mike Long, a former practicing lawyer and for many years now an attorney counselor at the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program in Portland, was a whirlwind tour of the financial, job satisfaction, health/longevity and relationship factors people in midlife should be seriously considering and planning for. The presentation focused on the individual's transition and did not address the institutional (firm or organization) factors of client retention/transitions and knowledge transfer. The audience was engaged, and many admitted they were quite behind in their planning for the inevitable.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

THE GREAT GENERITIVITY DEBATE

 I want to call your attention to an interesting debate on the between Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures, and David Brooks of The New York Times.

In a column published February 1, Brooks proposes reversing public policies that he says rob the young to serve the old and take from them funding, freedom and opportunity, saying, "It now seems clear that the only way the U.S. is going to avoid an economic crisis is if the oldsters take it upon themselves to arise and force change." He calls for a "generativity revolution" of millions of people demanding changes in health care spending and the retirement age to make life better for their grandchildren.

In a piece published today on The Huffington Post, Freedman says "the real generativity revolution is well under way. And with the help of smart new policies, this movement of forward-looking baby boomers might actually succeed." He writes, "It's increasingly clear that these older workers aren't competing with younger people; they are meeting demands for talent that will only grow as the economy recovers."

Freedman argues, "With 10,000 baby boomers turning 60 every day, it's time for public policies that honor their aspiration to leave the world a better place and harness their talent and energy for the long haul."

You can read David Brooks' column here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/opinion/02brooks.html
Marc Freedman's piece is here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-freedman/generativity-revolution_b_447774.html

Comments from both points of view are welcome on Encore.org, as well as right here. Join the discussion  at http://www.encore.org/news/marc-freedman

What are your thoughts? How do we prevent generational resentments and warfare?

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