It’s been coming since the end of World War II—or certainly, since the expansive “baby boom” following the war gave rise to a generation of families that developed more affluence than any before them: The biggest intergenerational movement of wealth in history is now underway; it’ll be playing out over the next two decades; and by 2045, most of the world’s wealth will be in entirely new hands. The enduring concentration of this wealth may be remarkable: Currently, the richest 1 percent holds almost half of it, and most of the great transfer will stay within its originating families. But not everything that came with this money is going with it.

As generational change gains pace, many of the outgoing cohort’s dominant understandings of what wealth is, and what it’s for, aren’t being transferred; they’re being replaced. Which means that all the assets en route to the incoming cohorts could end up being old means to very new ends. How much do we know about them?

Martin Raymond is the cofounder of The Future Laboratory, the editor in chief of LS:N Global, and the author of a new report on the great wealth transfer. To Raymond, the “rising generations” inheriting this wealth don’t merely care about different things than their predecessors—whether in their approach to investment, their consumption of luxury goods, or their outlay on experiences; they understand investment, consumption, and experience through different frameworks of meaning. Neither do they care any less about growing their wealth over time; they just see that goal through different strategic optics—determined by these frameworks of meaning. For all their cultural and political diversity, Raymond says, it’s remarkable how much the rising generations share in common globally—and in historical terms, a short matter of time before their ideas about the good life and its dependence on the right relationship to the world start noticeably reshaping it.

John Jamesen Gould: This is an immense intergenerational movement of wealth, maybe in excess of $70 trillion. Where’s it coming from? And why now?

Martin Raymond: The basic answer is death—and death. Which in this case are two slightly different things.

What we think of in the West as the postwar Baby Boom Generation, generally defined as people born between 1946 and 1964, that 1-to-8 percent of the world’s population that controls the majority of its wealth, is starting to die—and will be largely gone over the next 20 years. In the United States, in the United Kingdom, and across Europe, but also around the world, this is a historically huge cohort. So that’s the fundamental reality as to where the assets are coming from—and why they’re starting to come now.

In the meantime, though, the high–net-worth Boomers still among us are trying to make preparations for their death—in the literal sense, of course, but also in an extended sense, being the death of their control over the wealth they’ve established and its preservation. So there’s increasing engagement among these Boomers, their financial advisers and asset managers, and their families’ younger generations.

As to the total amount, every projection will give us a somewhat different number, whether it’s $83 trillion or more, or less, but it’s generally agreed that, yes, we’re talking about a hefty sum beyond $70 trillion.

Gould: So this mass of wealth is coming from the Boomers, and it’s enormous. Where’s it going?

Bartłomiej Balicki

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