Forecasting the Investing Habits of the Millennial Generation
According to Accenture, millennials are set to inherit the biggest wealth transfer in history, amounting to an estimated $30 trillion over the course of 30 to 40 years.
While it’s hard to know what this newest generation of investors will do once the funds hit their accounts, there is no shortage of speculation about the habits and attitudes that will characterize their collective approach to wealth management as they age.
Surveying Millennial Investors
Today’s infographic is the result of a partnership with our friends at Morning Brew, a daily business briefing newsletter that skews towards a millennial audience.
It showcases the results of their recent audience survey, which had 9,800 respondents from North America and Europe. All respondents fell between the ages of 18 and 35, representing a group that roughly equates to the business leaders of tomorrow.
The survey’s aim: to get a peek at their current financial habits and attitudes towards investing.
Who is Investing?
Of the respondents, a majority of 68.1% is employed full-time while another 27.6% identified as students. The remaining 4.2% is employed part-time or answered “other”.
Financial goals for these respondents were quite diversified, as seen below.
Primary financial goal:
- 23.8% – Earning a graduate/master’s degree
- 21.5% – Buying a car
- 19.6% – Getting married
- 19.0% – Buying a primary home
- 7.3% – Opening a business
- 6.4% – Having a child
- 2.3% – Buying a vacation home
It’s worth keeping in mind that people in this segment can be at very different stages in their lives. Those at the lower end (18-22 years) are just starting their adult years, while those at the higher end (30-35 years) can be quite a ways into their professional careers.
Portfolio Size and Composition
The vast majority of the cohort surveyed said they invest (89%), with the most common bracket of money invested rising steadily as respondents got older:
- 18 to 22 years old: $1,001-$5,000 (31.7%)
- 23 to 27 years old: $10,001-$50,000 (36.7%)
- 28 to 35 years old: $50,000+ (42.0%)
Not surprisingly, technology was the preferred sector to invest in for many in the pool of respondents. Nearly half of people (49.7%) said tech was their favorite sector, with healthcare (12.1%), energy (11.5%), and real estate (9.9%) appearing on the radar as well.
Many sectors were underrepresented here, with financial services (5.6%), consumer staples (4.8%), and consumer discretionary (3.1%) having a relatively low amount of interest. Even worse off were the utilities, industrials, telecommunications, and materials sectors, which held virtually no interest (<2%) among millennial investors.
Millennial Investing Habits
Millennials rate their level of expertise in investing as pretty limited, with only 18.3% of respondents expressing that they had high confidence in their own investment abilities. This is a finding that is consistent with the growing financial literacy problem in America.
The respondents preferred the human touch of financial advisors (70.2%) to robo advisors (29.9%), and were lukewarm towards social impact investing with only 21.1% seeing it as being very important.
As a final exclamation point on the survey results, millennial investors were very clear on what was important to them, and it’s low fees.
When asked how they decide on a professional service, 42.4% saw low fees as a top three deciding factor. At the same time, simplicity (11.6%) and breadth of asset classes (13.1%) were well behind in importance.
The Dominance of U.S. Companies in Global Markets
U.S.-based companies have a heavy weighting in global equity markets. In most industries, their market capitalization exceeds 50% of the total.
U.S. Companies Dominate Global Markets
Are global indexes as “global” as you think they are?
With the aim of tracking market performance around the world, these indexes incorporate securities from various regions. However, while the number of securities may be relatively well diversified across countries, a dollar perspective tells a different story. When market capitalization is taken into account, country weightings may become much more unbalanced.
Today’s visualization is based on a concept by S&P Dow Jones Indices that shows the percentage of U.S.-based companies in global sectors and industries as of December 31, 2019. The calculations reflect the market capitalization of companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI), an index that tracks over 11,000 stocks across 50 developed and emerging economies.
Percentage of U.S. Companies by Sector
U.S-based companies—those that maintain their primary business affairs in the U.S.—are a major component of many global sectors and industries.
Here’s how it breaks down:
|Sector||% of U.S.-based Companies||Most U.S.-heavy Subsector|
|Information technology||73%||Software (86%)|
|Health care||65%||Health care providers (82%)|
|Utilities||53%||Electric utilities (57%)|
|Real estate||51%||Equity REITs (69%)|
|Consumer discretionary||49%||Specialty retail (73%)|
|Consumer staples||46%||Household products (74%)|
|Industrials||46%||Aerospace & defense (73%)|
|Energy||44%||Energy - other (73%)|
|Financials||44%||Financials - other (73%)|
U.S.-based companies make up a staggering 73% of the information technology (IT) sector. However, China may soon threaten this dominance. The Made in China 2025 plan highlights new-generation IT as a priority sector for the country.
The U.S. is still the world’s leader, but China is coming up very fast.
—Rebecca Fannin, Journalist & Author of Tech Titans of China
Healthcare is also heavily skewed towards U.S-based stocks, which make up 65% of the sector’s market capitalization. This weighting is perhaps not surprising given the success of many U.S. healthcare companies. In Fortune’s list of the 500 most profitable U.S. companies, 41 healthcare organizations made the cut.
The materials sector has the smallest weighting of U.S.-based stocks, but they still account for almost one-third of the overall market capitalization. Three American companies are in the sector’s top 10 holdings: Air Products & Chemicals, Ecolab, and Sherwin-Williams.
U.S. Equity Views in a Global Context
Given the high weighting of U.S. stocks in global sectors and industries, having a U.S. view is important. This refers to investors gaining a clear perspective on the risks and opportunities that exist in the country. Investors can consider the trends influencing American companies in order to help explain stock performance.
U.S. stock dominance also impacts geographic diversification. While it helps non-U.S. investors overcome their home bias, American investors may want to consider targeting specific international markets for well-rounded exposure.
Intangible Assets: A Hidden but Crucial Driver of Company Value
Intangible assets – such as goodwill and intellectual property – have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.
Intangible Assets Take Center Stage
View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here
In 2018, intangible assets for S&P 500 companies hit a record value of $21 trillion. These assets, which are not physical in nature and include things like intellectual property, have rapidly risen in importance compared to tangible assets like cash.
Today’s infographic from Raconteur highlights the growth of intangible asset valuations, and how senior decision-makers view intangibles when making investment decisions.
Tracking the Growth of Intangibles
Intangibles used to play a much smaller role than they do now, with physical assets comprising the majority of value for most enterprise companies. However, an increasingly competitive and digital economy has placed the focus on things like intellectual property, as companies race to out-innovate one another.
To measure this historical shift, Aon and the Ponemon Institute analyzed the value of intangible and tangible assets over nearly four and a half decades on the S&P 500. Here’s how they stack up:
In just 43 years, intangibles have evolved from a supporting asset into a major consideration for investors – today, they make up 84% of all enterprise value on the S&P 500, a massive increase from just 17% in 1975.
The Largest Companies by Intangible Value
Digital-centric sectors, such as internet & software and technology & IT, are heavily reliant on intangible assets.
Brand Finance, which produces an annual ranking of companies based on intangible value, has companies in these sectors taking the top five spots on the 2019 edition of their report.
|Rank||Company||Sector||Total Intangible Value||Share of Enterprise Value|
|1||Microsoft||Internet & Software||$904B||90%|
|2||Amazon||Internet & Software||$839B||93%|
|3||Apple||Technology & IT||$675B||77%|
|4||Alphabet||Internet & Software||$521B||65%|
|5||Internet & Software||$409B||79%|
|7||Tencent||Internet & Software||$365B||88%|
|8||Johnson & Johnson||Pharma||$361B||101%|
|10||Alibaba||Internet & Software||$344B||86%|
|12||Procter & Gamble||Cosmetics & Personal Care||$305B||101%|
Note: Percentages may exceed 100% due to rounding.
Microsoft overtook Amazon for the top spot in the ranking for 2019, with $904B in intangible assets. The company has the largest commercial cloud business in the world.
Pharma and healthcare companies are also prominent on the list, comprising four of the top 20. Their intangible value is largely driven by patents, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Johnson & Johnson, for example, reported $32B in patents and trademarks in their latest annual report.
A Lack of Disclosure
It’s important to note that Brand Finance’s ranking is based on both disclosed intangibles—those that are reported on a company’s balance sheet—and undisclosed intangibles. In the ranking, undisclosed intangibles were calculated as the difference between a company’s market value and book value.
The majority of intangibles are not reported on balance sheets because accounting standards do not recognize them until a transaction has occurred to support their value. While many accounting managers see this as a prudent measure to stop unsubstantiated asset values, it means that many highly valuable intangibles never appear in financial reporting. In fact, 34% of the total worth of the world’s publicly traded companies is made up of undisclosed value.
“It is time for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs to start a long overdue reporting revolution.”
—David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance
Brand Finance believes that companies should regularly value each intangible asset, including the key assumptions management made when deriving their value. This information would be extremely useful for managers, investors, and other stakeholders.
A Key Consideration
Investment professionals certainly agree on the importance of intangibles. In a survey of institutional investors by Columbia Threadneedle, it was found that 95% agreed that intangible assets contain crucial information about the future strength of a company’s business model.
Moreover, 98% agree that more transparency would be beneficial to their assessment of intangible assets. In the absence of robust reporting, Columbia Threadneedle believes active managers are well equipped to understand intangible asset values due to their access to management, relationships with key opinion leaders, and deep industry expertise.
By undertaking rigorous analysis, managers may uncover hidden competitive advantages—and generate higher potential returns in the process.
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