Rich Millennials Don’t See Value In Wealth Management Firms
Wealthy young investors would rather pick their own stocks or plough their money into crypto.
Wealthy young investors would rather pick their own stocks or plough their money into crypto.
Michael Martocci, a 26-year-old startup founder, ignores the golf invitations and other solicitations from the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. financial adviser trying to land him as a client.
Eighteen holes isn’t particularly appealing to the Miami-based Mr. Martocci, and neither is paying for financial advice. Instead, he oversees his hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments himself. He funnels 90% of his money into cryptocurrency. To check his stocks, he pulls up Robinhood Markets Inc. on his phone.
“It’s easy to manage US$500,000, $1 million yourself,” said Mr. Martocci, who says he spends less than an hour a week monitoring his investments.
More rich young investors are opting to go without a traditional financial adviser. Instead, they are betting they can get good-enough investment options from do-it-yourself digital platforms that are cheap and easy to use. Many also want to invest in riskier assets, like cryptocurrencies and tech startups, that mainstream advisers often don’t offer.
About 70% of households with a net worth of US$500,000 or more headed by a person under 45 had an investing style that was either strongly or mostly self-directed in 2019, up from 57% in 2010, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by research firm Aite-Novarica Group. Nearly half of those households aimed to take an above-average level of risk in exchange for an above-average rate of return, up from 35% in 2010, the analysis found.
The wealth-management businesses at top firms like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch continue to mint profits with moneyed older clients. But competition from digital upstarts is growing, and traditional firms know they need to attract the next generation of lucrative customers.
Advisers say they do far more than just put a client’s money into stocks and bonds. They can help clients map out financial goals and prevent them from making rash decisions. They can also handle complex portfolio rebalancing and tax planning for busy professionals.
Merrill said it has diversified its adviser force and improved its technology. People under 45 made up 20% of new clients this year, up from 10% five years earlier, the firm said. Morgan Stanley has spent billions in recent years buying firms that it hopes will help it attract younger clients, like online broker E*Trade and employee-stock-plan administrator Solium.
Wealth-management firms also offer clients special access to some alternative investments, such as funds tied to private equity. But many either restrict or ban crypto investments and provide limited access to shares in pre-IPO companies.
Big firms are wagering that reluctant young people may hire an adviser when they are older. “When you start to go from the wealth accumulation phase to the retirement phase, the world gets much more complicated,” said Jed Finn, chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and head of corporate and institutional solutions. ”People don’t think they need advice until they need advice.”
Studies suggest that advisers can get caught up in chasing hot stocks, much like individual traders. During the 2008-09 financial crisis, financial planners often sold their clients’ stocks as the market fell. Still, when markets are rising as they are now—U.S. stock indexes have hit records this year—it is easy for professional and amateur investors alike to look smart.
When Travis Chambers, 33, landed a $9 million windfall from selling part of his advertising agency this year, he interviewed four financial advisers over video. He thought they put too little effort into explaining how their investments were unique and worth the fees. And none of them brought up crypto or real estate, the investments that most interested him.
Mr. Chambers, who lives in Boise, Idaho, decided to strike out on his own. He put $1 million into a hedge fund run by his business partner’s neighbour. He earmarked another $1.5 million to build offbeat Airbnb rentals in low-income areas. One project involves building futuristic huts in a dry lake bed in Utah.
U.S. Bancorp recently offered to give Mr. Chambers a personal line of credit at a 2.75% interest rate if he puts US$1 million into a brokerage account.
Mr. Chambers is considering the offer, but would keep managing most of his money on his own. He expects he would use the credit line to buy cars and a plane, which he thinks will increase in value.
When Cabell Hickman turned 18, her stepfather gave her money to buy stocks. He later invited her to invest alongside him in private companies. A few years ago, she put $100,000 into a blockchain fund run by a friend she met in college. Now 26, she is managing her own US$6 million portfolio.
Her stepfather died last year, leaving Ms. Hickman a complex estate, and for the first time she is considering hiring a professional financial adviser.
Ms. Hickman, a higher-education consultant, said she has found some good if homogeneous options: “I’m talking to, frankly, a bunch of old men.”
Mr. Martocci, who has been dodging the Goldman adviser, has most of his wealth tied up in his company, SwagUp. It creates and distributes branded items like tote bags and coffee mugs.
He said that at this point in life, he prefers risky investments that could potentially double or triple his money over those promising “market type returns.”
“Most young people don’t really care about the downside,” Mr. Martocci said. “They care about the upside and it being this fun thing.”
He plans to use a financial adviser, he said, if he gets a windfall from selling the company.
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: November 8, 2021.
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Food prices continue to rise at a rapid pace, surprising central banks and pressuring debt-laden governments
LONDON—Fresh out of an energy crisis, Europeans are facing a food-price explosion that is changing diets and forcing consumers across the region to tighten their belts—literally.
This is happening even though inflation as a whole is falling thanks to lower energy prices, presenting a new policy challenge for governments that deployed billions in aid last year to keep businesses and households afloat through the worst energy crisis in decades.
New data on Wednesday showed inflation in the U.K. fell sharply in April as energy prices cooled, following a similar pattern around Europe and in the U.S. But food prices were 19.3% higher than a year earlier.
The continued surge in food prices has caught central bankers off guard and pressured governments that are still reeling from the cost of last year’s emergency support to come to the rescue. And it is pressuring household budgets that are also under strain from rising borrowing costs.
In France, households have cut their food purchases by more than 10% since the invasion of Ukraine, while their purchases of energy have fallen by 4.8%.
In Germany, sales of food fell 1.1% in March from the previous month, and were down 10.3% from a year earlier, the largest drop since records began in 1994. According to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture, meat consumption was lower in 2022 than at any time since records began in 1989, although it said that might partly reflect a continuing shift toward more plant-based diets.
Food retailers’ profit margins have contracted because they can’t pass on the entire price increases from their suppliers to their customers. Markus Mosa, chief executive of the Edeka supermarket chain, told German media that the company had stopped ordering products from several large suppliers because of rocketing prices.
A survey by the U.K.’s statistics agency earlier this month found that almost three-fifths of the poorest 20% of households were cutting back on food purchases.
“This is an access problem,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at insurer Allianz, who previously worked at the United Nations World Food Program. “Total food production has not plummeted. This is an entitlement crisis.”
Food accounts for a much larger share of consumer spending than energy, so a smaller rise in prices has a greater impact on budgets. The U.K.’s Resolution Foundation estimates that by the summer, the cumulative rise in food bills since 2020 will have amounted to 28 billion pounds, equivalent to $34.76 billion, outstripping the rise in energy bills, estimated at £25 billion.
“The cost of living crisis isn’t ending, it is just entering a new phase,” Torsten Bell, the research group’s chief executive, wrote in a recent report.
Food isn’t the only driver of inflation. In the U.K., the core rate of inflation—which excludes food and energy—rose to 6.8% in April from 6.2% in March, its highest level since 1992. Core inflation was close to its record high in the eurozone during the same month.
Still, Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey told lawmakers Tuesday that food prices now constitute a “fourth shock” to inflation after the bottlenecks that jammed supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in energy prices that accompanied Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and surprisingly tight labor markets.
Europe’s governments spent heavily on supporting households as energy prices soared. Now they have less room to borrow given the surge in debt since the pandemic struck in 2020.
Some governments—including those of Italy, Spain and Portugal—have cut sales taxes on food products to ease the burden on consumers. Others are leaning on food retailers to keep their prices in check. In March, the French government negotiated an agreement with leading retailers to refrain from price rises if it is possible to do so.
Retailers have also come under scrutiny in Ireland and a number of other European countries. In the U.K., lawmakers have launched an investigation into the entire food supply chain “from farm to fork.”
“Yesterday I had the food producers into Downing Street, and we’ve also been talking to the supermarkets, to the farmers, looking at every element of the supply chain and what we can do to pass on some of the reduction in costs that are coming through to consumers as fast as possible,” U.K. Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt said during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London.
The government’s Competition and Markets Authority last week said it would take a closer look at retailers.
“Given ongoing concerns about high prices, we are stepping up our work in the grocery sector to help ensure competition is working well,” said Sarah Cardell, who heads the CMA.
Some economists expect that added scrutiny to yield concrete results, assuming retailers won’t want to tarnish their image and will lean on their suppliers to keep prices down.
“With supermarkets now more heavily under the political spotlight, we think it more likely that price momentum in the food basket slows,” said Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank.
It isn’t entirely clear why food prices have risen so fast for so long. In world commodity markets, which set the prices received by farmers, food prices have been falling since April 2022. But raw commodity costs are just one part of the final price. Consumers are also paying for processing, packaging, transport and distribution, and the size of the gap between the farm and the dining table is unusually wide.
The BOE’s Bailey thinks one reason for the bank having misjudged food prices is that food producers entered into longer-term but relatively expensive contracts with fertilizer, energy and other suppliers around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in their eagerness to guarantee availability at a time of uncertainty.
But as the pressures being placed on retailers suggest, some policy makers suspect that an increase in profit margins may also have played a role. Speaking to lawmakers, Bailey was wary of placing any blame on food suppliers.
“It’s a story about rebuilding margins that were squeezed in the early part of last year,” he said.
An influx of people could calm future volatility.
What this ‘median’ 7-figure price tag scores across Australia.