Millennials Worried More About Losing Phone than Car

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Justin Pritchard

Today’s 18-to-35-year-old “millennials” are more worried about losing their phones than their cars, according to a new Wall Street study.

Trying to understand the attitudes and preferences of the millennial demographic, whose members are expected to become the most significant investors over the next two decades, Wall Street’s 117 year-old fund manager, Legg Mason, polled over 5,000 wealthy millennials across 19 countries to understand their attitudes and investment preferences.

According to the study:

  1. 50 percent millennials consider themselves politically unaffiliated;
  2. 29 percent consider themselves religiously unaffiliated;
  3. 81 percent have donated money, goods or services to a charity;
  4. 61 percent are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible for making a difference; and
  5. 65 percent say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.

Millennials already comprise the largest cohort of the U.S. workforce, and their disruptive consumption attitudes are causing maximum turmoil for many industries trying to communicate and sell to what marketers call the “huge bubble in the snake.”

As a top mutual fund advisor, Legg Mason is worried about being identified as too “pale, male and stale” for their predominately white middle-aged workforce to effectively develop investment relationships with “an influx of 18- to 35-year-olds.”

Legg Mason is highly respected for generating superior long-term investment results. But their research reveals that less than 20 percent of millennial respondents said they were prepared to hold an underperforming mutual fund for more than a year, before dumping it. That contrasts to about 60 percent of investors over the age of 40 who said they would stick with a poorly performing fund for more than a year.

For a fund manager focusing on long-term value creation, millennials’ “quick trigger” is a major cultural problem for Legg Mason’s business model.

Nutmeg on-line investment advisor Nick Hungerford told the London Financial Times:

“Asset managers should be concerned that [millennials] are taking an active interest in their investments, and they should be worried that they are keen to switch out of funds.

“But it is tricky for fund managers, as millennials are demanding better service but investing less. They come from a generation that is used to switching immediately but they are not yet highly valued customers.”

One of the surprising insights from the Legg Mason study is that “20-somethings feel financially doomed, so do not save.” Many hit working age just as the financial crisis wreaked havoc on their parents and older brothers and sisters. Consequently, millennials have huge concerns about the risk of another financial crash.

Because of the pain and disappointments millennials observed in their youth, they place great value on transparency and their ability to fact-check issues. This sense of foreboding probably explains why 90 percent of millennials that own a smartphone check it within 15 minutes of waking up.

The Legg Mason study confirms that millennials do not trust the economy and are especially turned-off by Wall Street’s multi-layered and opaque commission and management fee structures. To continue a millennium of success, Legg Mason hopes to use the study to restructure how the firm communicates with clients and prospects in the future.


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