Investment Professional of the Future

Investment Professional of the Future

The Impact of Millennials


Investment organizations are facing a period of increased workforce diversity as they adapt to a multigenerational workforce with three actively working generations. As the overall population ages, older workers are staying employed longer, while younger employees are making up a larger percentage of the workforce. According to EY, millennials are expected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.xxii Data on the demographic makeup in financial services are difficult to gather, but Reuters reported that millennials and Gen Zers—all born after 1981—now make up 75% of Goldman Sachs’s 36,000-strong workforce.xxiii This changing age demographic is having a significant impact on the world of work. A symbolic example is the move to casual dress codes.

Key Concept

  • Cognitive Diversity :

    Differences in perspective or information processing styles across how individuals think, particularly in the context of new, uncertain, and complex situations, which can potentially lead groups to better decision outcomes.

Although the differences in skills, age, and experience should lead to increased diversity in thinking, the combination of generations also produces challenges as organizations determine how to implement operational and organizational changes to support employees at different life stages. With younger people making up a greater proportion of the workforce, employers need to think differently about who to hire and how to attract and retain a different and younger generation.

The influx of a new generation of workers is changing the structure of contemporary working environments, which is driven by each generation’s requirements and constraints. Young professionals are vying for certain conditions, such as greater work-life balance, casual and agile working environments, flexible schedules, remote working opportunities, and other ways to have greater control over when, how, and where they work.

Much of the focus on increased flexibility and work-life balance is related to the fact that, according to PwC, “Many millennial employees are unconvinced that excessive work demands are worth the sacrifices to their personal life.”xxiv Ironically, though, the small but growing trend toward “unlimited vacation policies” often increases anxiety about taking any time off and can introduce another form of competition.

However, the boundaries between work and life are becoming increasingly hard to define because today’s technology means that professionals are potentially connected at all times. This “always on” workplace brings opportunities and challenges for both employees and employers. It has resulted in blurred boundaries for many professionals whose ambitions have moved beyond work-life balance to work-life integration. The challenge for individuals is to find ways to improve the outcomes of work–life integration—that is, to find satisfaction with both by blending what they do professionally and personally. The younger generation is interested in career paths that will support their lifestyle. As noted in a report by Manpower Group, “Career ladders will give way to career waves as millennials prepare to run a work ultramarathon, wanting the flexibility to switch gears at different stages, and insisting on One Life—the work—home integration that allows them to pursue goals professionally and personally, when it suits them. More than ever, individuals will pursue careers with multiple employers rather than a job for life.xxv

This blurring of the lines is also evident in reduced differences between personal and professional growth. The consulting firm Fresh Squeezed Ideas reported these observations from member interviews: “We are seeing people talk about their development in a holistic way, and thus pulling apart professional from personal growth becomes arbitrary and limiting.”xxvi How firms encourage and support training and development opportunities that provide both will be another ongoing challenge; our survey indicates that personal growth is a significant area of importance to 89% of CFA Program candidates and 83% of CFA Institute members.

Ultimately, the commitment of organizations to the development of their people must be a realistically grounded investment. With high levels of turnover as individuals change roles and jobs more frequently, firms have to accept that they may not see the full return on investment when employees move on to find greater challenges.