Today’s article is the first in a series written by Simon Chan who started his own VLR earlier this year after working for 20 years in the financial services industry. He has a broad base of experience with the subjects of pre-retirement and financial independence having worked in multiple businesses such as banking, wealth management, insurance and group retirement benefits. Most recently Simon was the head of business strategy for the Canadian Retail Business for a global insurer. In his role, he became interested in how technology, globalization and the rapidly changing environment is impacting the lives of millennials. In short Simon knows his stuff, is a great guy and wants to help.
I believe it’s important that we understand the new challenges that will be faced by our kids and grandkids in the years ahead. It won’t be easy but we can succeed if we all work together. -Mike
This morning I woke up and as part of my daily routine, I began to read my Twitter feed to catch on the latest basketball news and what’s been happening in the world. Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen several articles on the rapidly changing workplace with the entry of new technologies like artificial intelligence and machines learning. This got me thinking about the “Big Dip” article that I read on the Victory Lap Retirement blog and whether Millennials who are in the early stages of their lives will experience the “Big Dip” in the same way as the Boomer generation.
The Early Years (A)
When I think of what Millennials are dealing with early in their lives and careers my belief is they are facing a much more difficult road than Boomers. Millennials are entering a globally competitive job market which has made post-secondary education table stakes resulting in students taking increasing amounts of debt. In addition to the pressures of school and finding an entry level job to begin the process of paying off their student debt, Millennials are bombarded with marketing messages encouraging them to spend and buy new products. No wonder we are seeing the incidence of anxiety, stress and depression increase in university students and young adults. They feel paralyzed and in constant stake of anxiety.
The Valley (B)
Both Boomers and Millennials enter their 30s/40s with increasing levels of responsibility which starts them down the big dip as the mounting obligations of getting married, growing a family, buying a home begin to reduce their financial flexibility and overall freedom. However, Millennials today are entering their 30s already behind the proverbial “8 ball” with higher levels of student debt, historically high housing prices making housing almost unaffordable, and an uncertain job market. To make matters worse, most Millennials will not have access to traditional financial building blocks such as a defined benefit pension plan that provides a guaranteed retirement income stream leaving them to decide how much to save and what investments to choose. This has led some Millennials to reject the path their boomer parents took and consider non-traditional paths such as not having children, rejecting the notion of buying a home, and taking more of a minimalist approach to life.
The Bumpy Climb (C)
As Boomers reached their late 40s and 50s, they began to experience more freedom as their children moved out of the home, their incomes began to rise, and financial obligations were declining. For most of their working careers, Boomers had stable jobs and a good pension plan to rely on in retirement. As Millennials reach a similar stage it their lives, the world will not be as stable and constant change will be the new normal. The constant change will result in the need to consider relocation to find work, going back to school to re-skill to remain relevant, and other working models such as freelance and being an entrepreneur. This stage will require Millennials to make multiple life transitions which will create stress both financially and emotionally. This creates questions like how will a Millennial fund these multiple life transitions and will they need to dip into their “retirement” savings. Will Millennials have the resilience to adapt to the ever-changing environment?
What does this mean?
My belief is that the Millennial version of the “Big Dip” will be much more challenging than the ones that Boomers experienced. Their journey to higher levels of freedom will be slower than the Boomer generation and will require more life transitions. This means the traditional path to success that the Boomers took is no longer relevant for Millennials. Millennials will need to find a way to play the “Long Game” and develop a new agile approach to maneuver in their constantly changing world.