Opinion

How 'great wealth transfer' from baby boomers to millennials will shape our planet's future

While many of the younger generation are under intense pressure trying to make ends meet, the next 10-20 years could change their situation considerably

Best known as ‘the great wealth transfer’, a massive volume of financial assets is set to pass between what we call ‘baby boomers’ and the current millennial and Gen Z cohort, what I like to call ‘Zennials’, in the next decade. In the US, this is estimated to amount to $84 trillion and in the UK, £5.5 trillion. 

Cross-generational wealth transfers happen all the time, but what makes this different and significant this time around is its scale. This will be the largest flow of generational capital ever seen in the history of humanity. 

And this event will not happen in isolation. It will also create a ripple effect on the economy, technology and culture. What these changes will look like is up to the new generation. 

Zennials are made up of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Zs (born between 1997 and 2013). In contrast to the boomer generation, Zennials’ financial activities are mainly motivated and influenced by sustainability and social justice, and they have demonstrated that they uphold a value-driven society. 

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

We cannot blame Zennials for their built-in mistrust of the financial system. Having grown up and lived through some of the toughest economic conditions, from the 2008 financial crisis to Covid to the cost of living crisis, and facing the very real scenario of climate change, this is a generation that is primed to take charge and enact positive change, movement by movement. 

But tearing down systems without a viable alternative only serves to cause immense harm. A new way of working is needed, a way we can ensure that the wealth transfer from boomers to Zennials happens harmoniously. 

My advice is for everyone, Gen Z, millennials and boomers, to work together. We need to be aware of each other’s needs, challenges, viewpoints, strengths, weaknesses and use them to their best advantage. With collaboration, compassion and community between all generations and at all levels, I hope we can productively create a nuanced, inclusive and socially energised capitalism. 

Zennials have strong ethics when it comes to the future of business and the financial system, something that, like with every generation, has been shaped by the environment they grew up in. 

We can already see the impact of Zennials’ principle-driven ethos as business and markets shift to cater for their preferences. It has been revealed that Zennials place high expectations on their employers and businesses in general, believing that business leaders have the power and responsibility to address environmental and social issues. Less than half of Zennials (44% of millennials, 48% of Gen Z) think businesses are currently making a positive impact on society.  

Surveys in the US show that the ways companies and brands address, or neglect, social issues directly affect Zennials’ decision whether or not to use their services or buy their products. This also extends to their careers. 44% of millennials and 49% of Gen Z have said they have made and will make choices about organisations they would be willing to work for based on their personal values. 

The same cohort have also expressed that they would like to be more involved in investing, especially in ethical companies and funds. Technology has somewhat levelled the playing field, due to the easy accessibility of financial information and an influx of investing apps and cryptocurrencies. 

We cannot ignore the ability of technology, from the internet to blockchain, to democratise finance and it is certainly here to stay. Not only has it provided access in the case of investing, it has also empowered this generation to make an impact. 

Never achieved at such a scale, the ideas and voices of Zennials are being heard at all levels of the economy and society, far and wide across the globe. The extent of their influence is directly linked to the exponential growth in technology over the last two decades and their own ability to deftly master new forms of technology as ‘digital natives’, with no signs of slowing down. 

Zennials will inherit resources of capital, power and influence, and technology will be the tool they use to enact their philosophy. 

What I hope, is for Zennials to achieve a stable, prosperous financial future, and I believe it is essential for us boomers to help realise this. Ideas from all sides of the table must be heard. Zennials will lead the way with their insight, combined with the hindsight of boomers to create the foresight essential to make this real. 

There are older people listening and ready to team up with you. So let your voice be heard, let that voice be encouraging and constructive. We want to help you succeed and are ready to find a solution. 

Good Money Week runs from 2-8 October

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

The 100 Trillion Dollar Wealth Transfer cover

Ken Costa is a mentor, coach, author and investor in next generation ventures. His book, The 100 Trillion Dollar Wealth Transfer: How the Handover from Boomers to Gen Z Will Revolutionize Capitalism is out now (Bloomsbury, £20).

You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today. Or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Seven of the last nine PMs went to Oxford. Has it gotten us any closer to solving child poverty?
John Bird

Seven of the last nine PMs went to Oxford. Has it gotten us any closer to solving child poverty?

Voter ID rules are racist – let’s get rid of them once and for all
voter ID, local elections 2023
Alba Kapoor

Voter ID rules are racist – let’s get rid of them once and for all

Sunak has been like an automaton for so long. Our leaders shouldn't fear being seen as human
Paul McNamee

Sunak has been like an automaton for so long. Our leaders shouldn't fear being seen as human

Food banks can take hope from election result – if Labour takes action before another tough winter
food bank
Charlotte White

Food banks can take hope from election result – if Labour takes action before another tough winter

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives