Millennial children grew up during a very uncertain time. During their teenage years and young adult lives, they watched the “dotcom” bubble burst and account values shrink during the great recession.

Understanding the Millennial Perspective

They watched as the homes most people viewed as a secure asset lost significant value. They have taken on more student debt than any generation prior to them, and have graduated in a tumultuous job market. When they entered the job market they learned not to expect job security, after watching their parents’ positions get eliminated or downsized. There is an understanding that programs that provided security for previous generations, like pensions and Social Security, may not be there for them.


These life experiences are having a direct impact on how Millennial children are making life and financial decisions. They are more likely than previous generations to delay having children and getting married. There is less value placed on purchasing a home. Flexibility is a priority for the individual who may need to relocate in order to advance their career. Staying with one company throughout their working career is no longer an option. Financial planning decisions now rest squarely on their shoulders, with little financial education or support from their employers. Paying down student debt is in the forefront of their minds, compared to the traditional early adult goals of previous generations.

While all of this may seem daunting as the parent of a Millennial, it is important to begin having financial conversations with your Gen Y children. Where can you start?

Where to start

Start having conversations early

Your children can learn from your previous experiences—both good and bad. It may be helpful to share stories about how and why you made decisions, what helped you successfully build wealth, and what you would do differently if you could. It’s probably best to stay away from giving direct advice, as Millennials prefer to learn from your stories and draw their own conclusions.

Be their sounding board

It is valuable to help your children think through the pros and cons of their financial decisions. Are they deciding between paying more on their college loan, or buying that new car? Maybe they’re considering a higherpaying consulting job with flexibility, over a traditional position with strong benefits. Listen to their perspective and then talk it through with them—and help them see the impact of their decisions, both short- and long-term.

Introduce them to your financial advisor

Gen Y is open to seeking advice from experts. Ask your Janney Financial Advisor to have a one-on-one meeting with your child. That meeting could be to develop a budget, create a financial plan, or review their employee benefits. In cases where children will inherit significant wealth, some families have started allowing their children to meet with their advisor— to participate in the investment review of a smaller account they own. This teaches them the investment basics. Regardless, meeting with an expert will help them get started by creating good financial habits.

Consider making your gifts strategic

If you are helping your children financially, you may want to consider making gifts to a Roth IRA, an investment account, or their children’s 529 plans. You can teach them the value of matching by requiring them to make a contribution in order to receive the gift. You can gift up to $14,000 per parent to each child and grandchild in 2020. Have your children review their new accounts annually.

Encourage philanthropy

Millennials are more community-minded than previous generations. Some families gift each of their children a set amount each year, and have them decide where to make that donation. This helps inspire giving, passes along family values, allows them to have a direct impact, and encourages gratitude.

Don’t keep your plan a secret

Share your values, thoughts, and expectations around money. If your children will receive an inheritance, start asking how they feel about it and how they think they will manage it. Having an annual family meeting to include children in the financial and estate plan has helped many families create an open dialogue among one another, and set expectations. It also helps to foster family harmony after a parent experiences an illness or passes away.

At Janney, we are here to help you begin to have those conversations with your Millennial children.

Working with Janney

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By establishing a relationship with a Janney Financial Advisor, we can build a tailored financial plan and make recommendations about solutions that are aligned with your best interest and unique needs, goals, and preferences. Contact us today to discuss how we can put a plan in place designed to help you reach your financial goals.

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, its affiliates, and its employees are not in the business of providing tax, regulatory, accounting, or legal advice. These materials and any tax-related statements are not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used or relied upon, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Any such taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

This is for informative purposes only and in no event should be construed as a representation by us or as an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. The factual information given herein is taken from sources that we believe to be reliable, but is not guaranteed by us as to accuracy or completeness. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors. Employees of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC or its affiliates may, at times, release written or oral commentary, technical analysis or trading strategies that differ from the opinions expressed within. 

About the author

Jessica Landis

Vice President & Head of Investment Solutions

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