A huge wealth transfer means millennials are poised to become ‘the richest generation in history’

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Soaring rents, rising inflation and student debt are among some of the reasons millennials have struggled to purchase their own homes or build up their savings. 
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A gigantic wealth transfer over roughly the next decade will likely make millennials “the richest generation in history,” according to a report from global real estate consultancy Knight Frank.

The annual Wealth Report, which will be released publicly in its detailed format next week, examines the latest trends in property and economics across the globe.

It found that, over the next 20 years, the so-called silent generation — those typically born from 1928 to 1945 — and baby boomers — born between 1946 and 1964 — will “hand over the reins” to those born from 1981 to 1996 when they pass on their property- and equity-rich assets.

In the U.S. alone, Knight Frank said the shift would see $90 trillion of assets move between generations, “making affluent millennials the richest generation in history.”

It comes at a time when research has shown that many millennials and Gen Z adults are having a tough time hitting the same milestones as those from previous generations — let alone finding room in their budgets to invest. Gen Z is generally defined as people born between 1996 and 2012.

Soaring rents, rising inflation and student debt have contributed to millennials’ struggles to purchase their own homes or build up their savings. For several years, however, these conditions have fueled a narrative that millennials are lazy, avocado toast consumers that waste money on expensive coffee.

Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank, said that the wealth transfer is taking place amid “seismic changes” in how the assets are put to use.

Climate change, for example, is one area where there are clear generational differences in investment priorities.

“Millennials appear to have got the message when it comes to cutting consumption – 80% of male and 79% of female respondents say they are trying to shrink their carbon footprints,” Bailey said.

In contrast, just 59% of male boomers were found to be trying to reduce their impact, significantly below their female peers, at 67%.

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