Millennials—those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s—often have an undeserved reputation. They’re portrayed as constantly looking down into their smartphone screens and doing anything they can to avoid becoming adults who are aware of the world around them. This belief is not true, especially when it comes to social responsibility.
Millennials Value Social Factors When Investing
A study by the Spectrem Group (High Net Worth Millennials) found that Millennials, no matter how wealthy they are, consider social factors when they’re making their investments. In fact, social responsibility was a higher priority than financial returns for 49% of Millennials who were worth $1 million or more, and even more (53%) of those who were not—older generations weren’t as concerned with social responsibility and were more worried about issues such as terrorism and politics.
These priorities are important for socially responsible investment companies to consider as they move forward. Millennials will be the ones driving the market in the future—they’re already in the age where they’re starting to invest and save for retirement, and some stand to inherit money from their parents or grandparents. As they get older and start to work into the financial system, their priorities and passion for charity and socially-conscious thinking stand to become societal norms, and the money will be driven accordingly. Businesses who want to keep up with the trends will need to adjust from the models that Baby Boomers put into place.
Generation Y is less likely to trust these existing financial institutions. Not only will this shape how they run their own businesses in the future (because they will be the business owners of the future), but also it dictates how they invest. Millennials have some cynicism when it comes to companies that claim social responsibility or conscientiousness and are skeptical that a stated mission statement to that end is anything more than a public relations measure.
Millennials Have More Access to Information
This skepticism is where their knack for technology comes into play. A Millennial has far more access to information about social issues, and all other parts of social investing than anyone in the generations before did—including the fact that socially-responsible investing exists. They’re more likely to do independent research, screen organizations thoroughly, keep themselves informed, measure the impact of their potential investment, and hold the organizations they’re looking into accountable for what happens with their money.
Not only are they going to be familiar with socially responsible investments and all of the terms associated with them, but they’re also going to look into investing in general and be educated on the risks. Many of them saw their parents struggle through the Great Recession with regards to money and are likely to be cautious about where they spend their money, which will end up balanced with their concern for social responsibility. This research will help them formulate educated questions so that, when they decide to invest, they’ll be able to not only find an advisor and company with the values that match those that are important to them, but they’ll be able to get even more information out of that advisor in order to make the best decisions for themselves and the world.
The Future is in the Hands of Millennials & That’s a Good Thing
The future rests in the hands of Millennials, and this should be comforting. Generation Y is one that cares more deeply about the world than conventional thinking says they do: helping others is a priority, and so is the wise investment of their money, no matter how much of it they have. Millennials want to invest their money the way that they live. Many are trying to cut down on their waste products at home and will likely research creative ways to reduce waste and invest in those companies that try to do the same. If they boycott products of the businesses whose values or practices don’t sit well with them, they’re probably not going to buy shares of those products no matter what they are or how high the expected financial returns are.
As more companies take note of the preferences of the Millennials driving the market, we’ll start to see changes in businesses everywhere. We’ll see improved and more ethical business practices and more investment not just in capital, but in the investors themselves. An investment in stakeholders will keep organizations accountable and set a new, better precedent for the years to come.
If you’re a Millennial looking to make one of your first investments as an adult into something that truly matters—or even if you’re not—Falcons Rock Impact Investments is your answer. We understand how important socially conscious investing is to you and we have portfolios for you to choose from. Learn more today.