The generational transition
The 20th century was undoubtedly a great era. Humankind achieved incredible advancements in science and technology, improved quality of life, expanded liberty and justice, alongside enormous wealth creation. The previous century certainly delivered unparalleled growth and prosperity. However, today we are being forced to confront the externalities of those achievements – the negative costs borne by the planet and society.
Many of us are already familiar with the great wealth transfer, which will see Millennials and Gen-Z around the world inherit trillions of dollars over the next decade1. According to Rogatis, an education organisation that works with families and youth living in the dynamics of wealth, we are also in the midst of great transitions across multiple facets of our global society. This includes six main aspects, namely: leadership, productive matrices, knowledge, values, global order, and wealth. All of which are creating both opportunities and challenges for the Next Generation transition.
In addition, research conducted by Rogatis found that for the members of the next generation who live in a dynamic of wealth will be directly impacted on three main fronts. First is intensifying inequality. As the gap between the haves and have-nots widens, wealth will come under greater scrutiny as it is seen as the cause of inequality. Social stability becomes increasingly vulnerable as such tensions deepen. Naturally, a stable society is in our collective best interest, so we must be cognisant of and work to decrease inequalities within and across our communities, both locally and globally. History has shown us countless times the perils of when excess wealth is confronted with excess want: populist movements, the polarisation of society and revolutions. However, this debate can be reframed and it is up to the younger generations to shape this narrative. Wealth itself is neither good nor bad, but rather a set of possibilities. It is up to the wealth owners to decide what to do with it2.
At the same time, the very infrastructure and models that our current society is based on are already being replaced. Traditional industries like those based on fossil fuels are in the process of being phased out as the world moves towards a net-zero emissions future. A circular economy is replacing the linear, disposable model of yesterday.
This will create both winners and losers. The 100+ year old UK department store, Selfridges, announced this summer that it aims to have half of all transactions be resale, repair, rentals or refills by 2030. Technology will eventually penetrate every sector across the economy.
All of these changes will require higher levels of entrepreneurial capacity and appetite for risk as the world adopts new models to meet new challenges in time. This is especially relevant to society’s most wealthy, and particularly the young, who have the longest time frames and can afford to take such risks to accelerate the innovation required to transform the economy.
Against this backdrop, the generational transition now underway confronts those looking forward with those looking back. But we can no longer stay where we are; we will progress by taking lessons and wisdom from the past, learning from the mistakes, knowledge and achievements of the ones that came before us. Older generations hold these references and experience to pass on and for this, should be integrated into the decisions taken about the future. It is up to the younger generations to dream. For that, we must understand how we got here and how we want the next chapter to read and that it is for us to write. We must acknowledge the legacies of those that came before us, understanding that we are transformational agents underpinned by intergenerational alliances.
We already have a strong set of tools at our disposal, including our imagination, rationality, confidence and analytical ability3.
This empowers us to take a chance and believe in our capacity to move forward. The only constant is change. As humans, we are always trying to improve and do better. We must now consider how to move forward, deciding what from the past to abandon and hold on to. What is for sure is more than ever, we need honesty and transparency. If we bring a fresh set of eyes to the issues our society faces, we can define new rules and values to apply so that the current century achieves as much as the last one or more, and does so in a sustainable and resilient way.
The concepts presented in this article are part of a decade of research conducted by Rogatis, a family legacy management company that focuses on assisting families in building the bases of perpetuating and developing their economic impact through their family members.
1Source: Forbes, 2022.
2Vogt, M (2022, Aug. 31). The generational transition of our times: What is at stake. NextGen Seminar 2022, Pictet, Geneva, Switzerland.