Last time out I looked at some of the financial challenges Millennials face. Whilst there are lots of big challenges standing in the way of Millennials; there are also great opportunities. If my last post was sanguine, I hope that this one is optimistic.
Let’s have a look at five opportunities that Millennials can exploit to help them achieve their financial goals.
In the space of fewer than three decades, we’ve been able to compile the complete knowledge of human knowledge on the internet. That knowledge is free, easy to access and readily available. With a smartphone, you can access it anywhere in the world, from Siberia to Syndey. It’s remarkable. And an unprecedented point in human history. Like never before, we can avoid so many mistakes and costly lessons. We can learn new skills and take advantage of new opportunities. For those willing to learn and put the brain matter to work, we can learn how to successfully save, invest and plan our future. That’s a huge opportunity.
In my challenges post, I talked about how the Government can’t take all your money anymore (at least in Western Democracies). But more than that, savers and investors are protected like never before. Governments have set up regulatory bodies which actively police against mal-intentions. The days of Robert Maxwell and Equitable Life are long past. That’s not to say we can’t do better. There are still lots of regulatory issues out there: you need only look at the Port Talbot British Steel fiasco. But things are so much better than they were.
For Millennials, it requires us to put some trust and faith in ‘the system’ that is sorely lacking amongst older generations who have been burnt. I’m not imploring blissful ignorance of the shortcomings in the financial sector. A wary trust that investing early in a diversified investment portfolio is the best way to provide for our financial future.
3. Accessibility of financial services
Perhaps even more important than investor protection is the increasing accessibility of financial services. Not long ago investing in the market meant ringing up a stockbroker to place a deal or going to see an adviser in person to buy a product. The internet has washed all that away. It’s easier than ever to set up a brokerage account and get started. You can start investing in the market from only £10 a month.
There is also so much readily available information out there. Sites like Monevator and Candid Money have led the way in making almost every aspect of investing available for the layperson. If you invest in a product you can transparently find information on: exactly how the product works; what the aim of it is; and how much it costs.
Again, things aren’t perfect. Investors deserve greater transparency (thankfully we have some great people on our side such as The Transparency Task Force and the Evidence-Based Investing Conferences). But the days of people being locked out of the market are gone. Anybody can, and should, start investing for the future today.
4. Flexibility of opportunities
A comment on the challenges post beautifully captured this opportunity (thank you Roberto Sans):
Another thing widely available now and near impossible a generation ago was the fantastic geographic mobility that we enjoy today. I you have marketable skills in a country different from your own you can just move and work there for a while but you do not have to lose all contact with your friends and family. You can be in touch by social media, Voip telephony and cheap flights.
Whilst in some respects it is lamentable that the old ‘job for life’ or ‘company man’ has faded into extinction, it’s never been easier to move jobs, careers and countries. Prior to WWI the merchant and aristocracy of the world moved freely around the world picking up the best opportunities. Skilled tradesmen would often be prevented from leaving their own towns and cities.
The horror of WWI and mutual distrust between countries led to the creation of the modern passport, preventing the movement of people and skills. Since that point 100 years ago it has become easier and easier to move to find new opportunities. An example is how I, sitting in London, can communicate to people all over the world (and vice versa).
So for Millennials, the relaxation of physical constraints in where and how they work presents many opportunities. My advice to Millennials would be to look out for those opportunities, and jump at them when you get the chance.
I’m no Cassandra when it comes to social media, but there is a great aspect to it. Like never before I can talk and listen to a range of viewpoints that were previously unavailable. I can find immediate insight from leading experts in investing, pensions and saving through Twitter. We can keep in contact with people from around the world with social media and VOIP.
Perhaps more than that, I can speak to and learn from my Italian, Malaysian Chinese and Albanian neighbours. I can learn from their cultures and experiences in other countries. What aspects of life are better here (or worse). Or simply thinking about life from a viewpoint other than my own. Because when you work, you’re clients and customers are going to be different to you; and the more open you are to understanding what makes them happy, the easier your job will be.
Over to you
What opportunities do you think are available to Millenials? Do you agree with the opportunities I’ve written about? Or do you think I’m overly optimistic? If you had to give some advice to a Millennial, what would it be?
All the best,
Young FI Guy
[p.s. thank you to all those that read and commented on challenges post. I felt quite down about it after struggling to write it and feeling unhappy with the quality of my writing. Thank you all for giving me the encouragement to keep going!]