The Greatest Transfer of Wealth Has Started — Are You Ready? (January 2023)
Americans are living through the most significant generational shift in our nation’s history as boomers age (those born 1946 – 1964) and millennials (born 1981-1995) take over as the dominant generation. Millennials are already the largest generation in the US and the most represented age group in the workforce. They are growing in economic experience and accumulating wealth. In addition to saving from earnings, millennials are beneficiaries of the largest wealth transfer ever, as an estimated $60 trillion will transfer in the coming decades. In short, millennials are tasked with the greatest stewardship responsibility in human history. How do they prepare? Through the acquisition of experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
Forget the mistake. Remember the Lesson.
Each new generation lacks experience as they begin to accumulate income and assets. The millennials are no different. They know there was a global financial crisis in 2008 but may not have heard of Lehman Brothers, Countrywide, Bear Stearns, or Wachovia. Most did not own real estate or see their home equity disappear during the financial crisis. They were too young to participate in the frantic stock market day trading and speculation that defined the tech bubble. This new generation of investors will make its own financial mistakes and learn the associated lessons. We already see examples in the boom and bust of cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and “meme stocks.” Millennial investors will need to learn their own hard lessons as the generations before them, thereby learning through experience.
“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”
– Peter Drucker
In addition to learning through experience, we require knowledge to be wise stewards. Knowledge in finance includes understanding rules, regulations, tools, and strategies. Anyone can gain financial knowledge through internet research, reading books, or attending courses. The challenge today is not where or how to obtain information but how to discern what is true and relevant in a sea of endless content.
“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise.” – Charles Spurgeon
Wisdom complements knowledge by applying principles and purpose to the information we gather. When the great Biblical finance teacher, Ron Blue, speaks on knowledge vs. wisdom he holds a copy of the Wall Street Journal as a symbol of knowledge and the Bible as the symbol of wisdom. The combination is powerful. Anyone with worldly knowledge can build wealth. God’s word reminds us that wealth can be a tool for good or sin, depending on how we use it. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NIV). We gain wisdom from the stories and principles of the Bible that remind us of who we serve in our role as stewards and what he wants for us.
What is your role in the great wealth transfer? If you stand to inherit, are you preparing yourself by accruing experience, knowledge, and wisdom? Maybe you are building wealth and intending to leave a legacy. If so, how are you preparing the next generation of stewards? Are you sharing your experiences and knowledge? Are you guiding your heirs to the wisdom of God’s word? We all have a role to play in this process to ensure we honor His will.