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Threat or Opportunity? The Pending TRILLION Dollar Wealth Transfer

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11 minute read

By Perry Kinkaide, MSc, PhD, CMC – Kinkaide Enterprises Inc.

Winning a lottery can have tragic results.

Millennials and charities may not realize they are about to win a lottery, arguably the most monumental economic, political, and social event of the 21st century.

It will be the largest, broadest, deepest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history: the transfer of $trillions of wealth accumulated by babyboomers as they retire and expire. I’ve been tracking and alerting others to the associated threats and opportunities, namely: financial planners and high-wealth people, government and early-stage entrepreneurs.

Some millennials are already anticipating and pre-spending their inheritance. Most are not!

Hence, the boom underway of financial planners, new investment services, and government’s interest in how to access private capital. What has not been discussed in any depth is the impact of the wealth transfer on innovation and public services such as health and education.

The impact is expected to be profound and should be stirring a public policy discussion engaging those expecting more or less from governments.

Since the end of WWII, we’ve seen an extraordinary growth of government at all levels. Yet, debt worldwide is in the $trillions. The runup of budgets and services has contributed to an increasing sense of entitlement financed by increasing taxes on the wealthy, growing middle class, and debt financing.

Elected officials with access to “free money” have transitioned government and the public to expect “public” service for “free”. Governments have been getting elected on special interest giveaways, pandering to ever more powerful public-sector unions and professions, and blaming billionaires and corporate job creators if the public coffers are empty. The growth of public debt has been unrestrained. But why worry – the economy has been growing? Debt is under control as a portion of growing GDP and interest rates for serving debt are low. But…

A reckoning for this transfer of wealth is unavoidable

The reckoning will be triggered NOT by a crisis but by the huge transfer of $trillions by retiring and expiring babyboomers. The pending transfer should hardly be a surprise given the extraordinary economic boom and accumulation of wealth by middle-class babyboomers since their post-WWII birth. While the event can hardly be surprising, features of the event are SHOCKING and contributing to the reckoning.

Consider:

1. $Trillions are to be transferred. Recent estimates are that $68T – yes trillion US, will be transferred to millennials as babyboomers retire and expire. This number equates to $8.5T Cdn for Canada. It’s a once-in-a-career opportunity for financial planners. Some have speculated that the familiarity of millennials with technology may be good news for fintech including contemporary bitcoin solutions and cryptocurrencies

2. The transfer and its impact will hit quickly. Aging of the population is not smooth. Birthrates climbed rapidly after WWII creating a spike in their proportion of the population. The spike gives the financial industry little time to prepare for increasing usage of automated, self-help, on-line investing.

3. The transfer of wealth should increase the availability of private capital increasing economic activity: stirring innovation and job creation, exports and community enterprise. Economies most likely to gain will be those with a mature innovation ecosystem supporting survival, growth, and retention of innovation. Note. Fraud may also increase as regulators have difficulty keeping up with creative financing options.

4. Baby boomers were the source of demand for public services that continues to rise. Yet, the capacity to sustain the financing of public services through taxation is expected to drop sharply as taxpaying babyboomers retire and expire. The impact would be mitigated IF the wealth transfer were to stir taxable economic activity.

5. The size and aging of the babyboomer market sustain interest in “public” service delivery where health and education dominate government expenditures. These public services also constitute significant sources of employment.

Current levels of service cannot be sustained when babyboomers retire and expire: a) removing them as employees from the workforce, b) reducing demand for client services, and c) reducing the number of taxpayers for financing public services.

6. Babyboomers have fueled North America’s consumer economy. Markets MUST adapt quickly. Technology is more familiar and acceptable to millennials as the recipient of the wealth transfer. Institutional distrust and data accessibility are enabling the personalization of services and products in virtually every service sector.

7. Accumulation of public debt is crushing. Low-interest rates have continued to fuel the growth of public and private sector debt. ANY increase in interest rates and/or a sustained decline in tax revenues would shock public services.

I’ll pull no punches here and tell it as it is.

The debate must begin in anticipation of the looming tsunami. The good news is that the private sector is investing in technologies to accommodate and benefit from the transition and release of accumulated wealth. The bad news is that the public sector wants to sustain the status quo as it is dominated by beholden professionals with few schooled in transition management. Most claiming management status are really administrators – sustaining the profession.

What is needed to prepare?

1. Millennials need financial planning and their offspring need financial literacy. Without a plan, most will take their inheritance as an opportunity to spend, save or invest, driving a short term consumption boom and consequent hangover.

2. Banks will face increased pressure to accommodate the rise in usage of on-line investing, usage of cryptocurrencies, and other innovations in fintech.

3. Knowledge and technology seek a vacuum. Data is fueling the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence throughout the economy, necessary to accommodate a shrinking workforce.

4. Governments must rationalize social service standards and/or facilitate their personalization. Innovations in medicine and healthcare and the associated deinstitutionalization must be priorities.

5. As for education, it too must move beyond government as rapid increases in knowledge make lifelong learning necessary. Deinstitutionalization and innovation become essential for supporting service personalization.

6. Professions need relational skills and lifelong learning to complement their role as aides to consumer designed technologies.

7. Governments with any conscience must prepare for the crisis as an opportunity to give the client consumer status. This means personalizing public services: a) monitoring service satisfaction, b) incentivizing innovation contributing to service personalization, c) training and recruiting managers as change agents while d) maintaining public service insurance for the truly disadvantaged.

8. Collaboration among all stakeholders to increase productivity within industry.

9. Recognition that the humanities MUST guide any technology-driven transition thus calling for arts and science, humanities and technology, to work together.

If you’ve read this far, and are breathless, angry, or in denial…then consider the alternative.

Should governments sense that the public in a democracy can’t accommodate the anticipated shocks of a huge wealth transfer and free-spending, market-driven millennial, then government may step in and mitigate. How?

Mitigation may come by reducing the impact of the “free money” wealth transfer by reducing the buying power of millennials.

Do We Need a Wealth Transfer Tax?

This could be done by introducing a wealth transfer tax arguing that the new tax is dedicated to paying down the public debt accumulated while serving the former babyboomer generation. The downside of such intervention is that such measures will impede a critical improvement in productivity and the competitiveness of the affected economies.

Some governments may even declare innovation as a priority so as to preserve public services. Governments are already recognizing that technologies – such as AI, have the potential to dislocate expensive knowledge workers and address: a) increasing demand for service and it’s personalization, b) increased entrepreneurship and global enterprise, and c) a decline in the supply of social service resources. The policy of increased “innovation” typically fails in public services unless introduced with adequate resolve to confront institutionalized professional resistance and the drive/ culture to maintain the status quo.

Regardless – as no one knows the future, it is about time for Vision & Leadership, Creativity & Convergence.

It’s exciting to know that “free money” in the hands of the babyboomer’s offspring may be the very event to trigger an end to the 20th century’s assembly of “public” service supply and transition increase in the “personal” service market.

_________

Perry Kinkaide, MSc, PhD, CMC is the Founder and Past President of the Alberta Council of Technologies. He is the co-founder of several Alberta technology alliances for advancing cell therapy, cleantech, and fusion technology. He also previously served as the Managing Director of KPMG Consulting in Edmonton, Alta., and Assistant Deputy Minister with the Alberta government.


Produced with the assistance of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Media Fund

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Alberta

Protecting the right to vote for Canadian citizens: Minister McIver

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Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued the following statement in response to Calgary City Council’s vote to extend the right to vote to permanent residents:

“Yesterday, Calgary city council passed a motion advocating for permanent residents to be extended the right to vote in civic elections. Alberta’s government has been clear since the beginning: only Canadian citizens are able to vote in civic elections. That will not be changing.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen to vote and to run as a candidate. This right extends to voters in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

“Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance. Our provincial election legislation, like the Local Authorities Elections Act, has also been clear since its inception that voting is a right of Canadian citizens.

“Alberta’s government is also ensuring that voting is accessible for more Albertans. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes to enable special ballot access for any voter who requests it, without having to provide any specific reason such as physical disability, absence from the municipality or working for the municipal election. The ministries of Seniors, Community and Social Services and Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction are also making it easier for individuals to obtain the identification Albertans need for a variety of services, including the ability to cast a ballot.

“Our government will continue to protect the integrity of our elections and make sure voting is accessible for all Albertans who are Canadian citizens.”

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Alberta

Three Calgary massage parlours linked to human trafficking investigation

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News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

ALERT’s Human Trafficking unit has searched and closed three Calgary massage parlours. A year-long investigation has linked the businesses and its owner to suspected human trafficking.

ALERT arrested Hai (Anna) Yan Ye on April 16, 2024 and charged the 48-year-old with advertising sexual services, drug offences and firearms offences. The investigation remains ongoing and further charges are being contemplated.

Ye was linked to three commercial properties and two homes that were allegedly being used for illegal sexual activities and services. The massage parlours were closed following search warrant executions carried out by ALERT, the Calgary Police Service, and the RCMP:

  • Seagull Massage at 1034 8 Avenue SW;
  • 128 Massage at 1935 37 Street SW; and
  • The One Massage Centre at 1919 31 Street SE.
  • 1100-block of Hidden Valley Drive; and
  • 3100-block of 12 Avenue SW.

As result of the search warrants, ALERT also seized:

  • $15,000 in suspected proceeds of crime;
  • Shotgun with ammunition; and
  • Various amounts of drugs.

“We believe that these were immigrants being exploited into the sex trade. This has been a common trend that takes advantage of their unfamiliarity and vulnerability,” said Staff Sergeant Gord MacDonald, ALERT Human Trafficking.

Four suspected victims were identified and provided resources by ALERT’s Safety Network Coordinators.

ALERT’s investigation dates back to February 2023 when a tip was received about suspicious activity taking place at the since-closed Moonlight Massage. That location was closed during the investigation, in December 2023, when the landlord identified illegal suites on the premises.

The investigation involved the close cooperation with City of Calgary Emergency Management and Community Safety, Alberta’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the RCMP.

Ye was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions.

Anyone with information about this investigation, or any case involving suspected human trafficking offences, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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