The most coherent research I have seen coming out of the voting patterns of last Thursday is this.
While support for Liberals is consistent over ages, the vote for the binary propositions of conservative and labour governments is highly dependent on age.
The old chestnut
“If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”
appears to have truth in it, at least in identifying changing voting trends.
Ashcroft polls also suggest that people voted Conservative for management reasons – getting Brexit done and managing the country, while those who voted for other parties did so out of and for conviction.
Pragmatism v conviction?
Pension people will discover in this , elements of the lifestyle matrix established by many pension schemes which will invest youngsters in illiquid assets invested for the long-term but “de-risk people into short term investments in bonds or even cash as they get older.
But is this a case of people getting wiser as they get older, or are they simply conserving the gains of their youth and depriving the next generation of jobs and wealth and pensions?
Is risk aversion the same as conservatism and did this election witness an extreme example of intergenerational conflict?
So why did young voters care so much about the NHS?
The NHS is overwhelmingly the most important issue for Labour voters (74%) who we have identified as typically younger people. But younger people do not use the NHS. The support for the NHS by Labour voters appears to be for idealistic not pragmatic reasons.
We know that the users of the NHS today, are older people, yet the NHS seems a lot less important (41%) to them , than to the youngsters.
I wonder whether my generation of boomers will be as generous back.
Lesson for pensions – for youngsters emotion matters
Franklin Templeton’s recent report “The Power of Emotions – responsible investment for Generation DC” – is the latest in a fast-lengthening line of arguments for commercialising the green pound held in the pay-packets of the under 35s. (you can access the paper here)
It may sound despicable to those fearful of green-washing, but financial services companies need to grab the millennial and make them theirs and the big asset managers have worked out that responsible investment is tomorrow’s meal-ticket.
They should be looking at the results of the election as validation for their adopting RI strategies, at least for the growth phase of workplace defaults. But I suspect that we have more to learn from #okboomer than to throw a few crumbs.
Lessons for pensions- seniority matters more
We are often have to take binary decisions in business. For me there are choices such as whether to satisfy the conviction of younger people and engage through responsible investment, alternatively appeal to the conservative needs of people my own age who are concerned about losing money through scams or their own poor decision making.
These choices are biased by the fact that older people have more in the way of money and therefore pay more attention to the ideas that I am selling. In political terms, the grey voter appears to have been more effective in achieving its result than the young one.
There is a lesson for business one and it’s not very pleasant. While you may be able to get by selling plastic sandals on Instagram (or RI to millennials) , it’s a lot easier to get rich selling financial products to people over fifty.
And here is where I doff my cap to Pension Bee and Multiply AI, Fintechs that target the millennials. In business terms , they are swimming against the tide, they do however have the estuary to themselves!
The wealth management industry is sipping cocktails by the heated pool.
— Telegraph Questor (@DTquestor) December 12, 2019
Is “responsibility” going to work both ways?
There are a number of ways of looking at voting patterns and Ashford Polls looks at a good few. They include voting on single issues (such as Brexit), voting by personality (or lack of it) and voting tactically out of hate for a particular party.
But none of the patterns seems as conclusive as the pattern we started with.
The Conservatives won because the old people made more difference in terms of votes cast and in particular in seats won. Never has the phrase “we are an ageing society” – been so graphically and frighteningly depicted,
The question is whether my generation will exercise the power we have responsibly, or whether we will plunder our nation’s wealth and exclude future generations from our prosperity.
If we do , we will deserve the message on the hoodie.