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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Young Professionals

Throw the Bums (Adult Children) Out!

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Like the old Saturday Night Live skit where the disciplinarian “Dad” driving home his wayward daughter and boyfriend from school turns out to be the parent’s Morgan Stanley advisor, a crop of new studies suggest the millennial generation needs a good talking to — with advisors bolstering their parents.

Following up on a recent Pew study finding that nearly 22 million young adults are still living at home with their parents, Securian Financial Group recently surveyed 700 of these millennials and found them somewhat clueless about how they were impacting their parents’ finances.

Citing evidence of the young generation’s reputation for self-absorption—today’s young adults rank higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory than at any time since 1979—Securian notes that it remains unclear whether so many young adults remain at home because of the Great Recession or because they expect to be showered with parental aid.

Evidence that self-centeredness is a big factor came in response to the question: “Why do you live with your parents? (select all that apply).”

Nearly 40% said they wanted to save money in order to buy things they want, such as cars and travel—second to the more practical 48% wanting to save money to buy their own homes.

Fifty-three percent said they were jobless or underemployed.

Securian notes anecdotally that the narcissism of today’s youth is often ascribed to a generation in which young people were “rewarded for participating rather than achieving, accustomed to a self-customizing web-centric world, and having parents who solve problems rather than guide children to find their own solutions.”

That idea was evidenced by the more than three-fourths of respondents who said their parents encouraged them to live at home and the 91% who said their parents placed no conditions on how long they may stay.

Asked about how they contribute to household welfare, just 10% of these young adults pay rent, 8% provide no compensation whatsoever while the largest proportion, 82.4%, help with household chores. Just under half, 48.5%, say they help pay for household expenses such as bills and groceries.

The 18- to 32-year-olds surveyed (three-fourths of them under 26) displayed little awareness of their parents’ finances, with about half professing familiarity and half not.

But here’s the rub:

“Among those who said living at home has no impact on their parents’ personal finances: Twenty-five percent indicated elsewhere in the survey that their parents’ household expenses are higher. Forty-four percent indicated elsewhere in the survey they are unsure of the impact they have on their parents’ personal finances,” Securian says.

Further underscoring this confusion, of the 130 respondents who said they were unsure of the impact of their living at home, a third of them also claim elsewhere in the survey to be familiar or very familiar with their parents’ finances.

Nearly half (45%) of millennials thought their remaining at home had no impact on their parents’ finances. Only 4% thought it might cause their parents to delay retirement. “Because so many are unaware of how living at home is affecting their parents financially, it’s possible respondents did not select this option because they don’t know it’s happening,” Securian writes.

The retirement income firm bolsters this idea by noting another recent survey — this time of parents — in which 42% of respondents said having adult children at home was adversely affecting their finances.

Like that Morgan Stanley advisor in the SNL skit, though without the evident rage, Securian advises parents to secure their own financial futures before overextending themselves to their adult children.

“Running out of money as a frail senior would be the worst outcome,” the firm concludes, given that healthy young adults have decades to build their own financial security.

Two other recent studies take a dim view of the character and skills of the younger generation.

Temp agency Adecco Staffing U.S.’s recent survey of corporate executives found a deficit in young workers not merely in scientific or technical skills but in the far more basic “soft skills” such as communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Independently, a St. Louis Community College survey reached similar conclusions.

Check out 20-Somethings Want to Save, but Life Gets in the Way on ThinkAdvisor.


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