Millennial Millionaires Hold Most of Their Wealth in Crypto, and Plan on Buying More

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A majority of millennial millionaires not only own crypto, but hold the bulk of their investment wealth in the assets, according to the new CNBC Millionaire Survey. The results show a shifting economic paradigm as younger investors view cryptocurrency more favorably.

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The survey, which polls investors with investible assets of $1 million or more, found that 83% of millennial millionaires own crypto. In addition, 53% have at least 50% of their wealth in crypto and nearly a third have at least three-quarters of their wealth in Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies, according to the survey.

Matthew Le Merle — managing partner of Blockchain Coinvestors, a VC fund-of-funds that invests across blockchain/crypto — told GOBankingRates that 35% of Americans are under 40, and that “they are digital natives and they understand the attractiveness of digital monies and assets including Bitcoin. They expect their advisors to get educated and onboard as well.”

“The future belongs to the next generation. Their voices are becoming louder and their net worth larger, so those looking to interact with them need to know how to engage,” Le Merle said. “You only have to look around the world to see that the most affluent, dynamic and attractive economies are innovation based. Any leading wealth manager has no choice but to embrace innovation in all its forms.”

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A Generational Divide on Cryptocurrency Investment

The survey details a generational divide, as crypto holdings of millennial millionaires stand in stark contrast to the investment portfolios belonging to older generations of millionaires: only 4% of baby boomers hold cryptocurrency, and less than a quarter of Gen X investors own any crypto, according to the survey. Indeed, the survey notes that older generations of millionaires are still largely skeptical of crypto and its future, while cryptocurrencies have become the primary source of wealth creation and asset growth for many younger investors — investors who got in early and have seen rapid returns.

“Essentially, returns in traditional markets — and especially the bond market — are relatively lower than that experienced by the baby boomers,” Duane Good, co-founder and president of Latin American Fintech company Tribal Credit, told GOBankingRates. “When you couple this with rising costs of living, including for housing, it makes sense that even wealthy Millennials are looking to grow their wealth with the fastest-growing industry in human history: crypto. And so, as a result of this, investment advisors who don’t not get familiarized are going to be left behind in a big way — or, as they say in the industry, not going to make it.”

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Another key finding of the survey is that 48% of millennial millionaires plan to add to their crypto holdings over the next year, while another 39% plan to maintain their current crypto levels. Only 6% of millennial millionaires plan to reduce their crypto investments over the next year, according to the survey.

Shane Molidor, Chief Revenue Officer at digital asset financial platform AscendEX, told GOBankingRates that at a high level, it’s as simple as this: bonds are going negative.

“Interest from your bank is next to nothing, and many traditional growth stocks, such as tech, appear to have peaked or are coming close to peaking. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that younger generations such as millennials are searching for the highest yields possible, which leads them to the rapidly growing crypto industry,” Molidor said.

This sentiment is echoed by many in the crypto business.

“Wealth managers are in for a rude awakening,” Seraphim Czecker, risk advisor at Euler, a permissionless DeFi lending protocol, told GOBankingRates. “Most have catered to the wealth of baby boomers derived from assets like stocks, bonds, and real estate. The future of wealth, however, is blockchain-based and it requires a whole different set of skills from an investment manager. Essentially, DeFi made the younger generation realize that they mostly do not need boomer middlemen. What they need is reliable code to allow them to manage their wealth.”

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Millennials Wary of Traditional Banking

Experts point to additional reasons as to why money made by millennial millionaire investors is tied to crypto, including the lack of trust in the traditional banking system. Many millennials entered the workforce during the Great Recession and “know firsthand what bad actors in the banking sector and elsewhere are capable of doing,” per Molidor.

“With the lack of trust in traditional investing institutions, crypto provides an alternative. Because most cryptos are governed in a decentralized fashion — that is, by communities who oversee rules set in code — it’s seen as more honest by young people,” he said.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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