How Gen Z and Millennials Are Reshaping Investment Strategies and Where Do RSUs Fit In?‍

Casey Fenton


February 8, 2024

Have you heard about the latest trend shaking up the world of personal finance? A recent CNBC article highlighted a fascinating shift: Generation Z and millennials are leading a "soft saving" revolution, prioritizing personal growth and mental wellness over traditional aggressive saving goals. 

This seismic shift in financial attitudes is not just a fad; it's reshaping how the younger workforce approaches investments, including the intriguing world of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). This article explores what this means for you and how RSUs might just be the investment vehicle that aligns with this new era.

Understanding the 'Soft Saving' Trend

The concept of soft saving marks a significant departure from traditional financial planning. It's not just about saving for a rainy day or retirement; it's about striking a balance. This approach allows individuals to enjoy their earnings now, without completely disregarding the future. It's a nuanced way of managing finances, reflecting a broader shift in how younger generations view work, life, and money. Unlike the previous generations who often prioritized long-term savings, Gen Z and millennials are more inclined to spend on experiences and personal growth today.

This change in saving habits is more than just a trend; it's a reflection of evolving life goals. For many in Gen Z, the quality of life now holds more weight than the size of their bank account for the future. This shift is evident in their spending habits, with a greater focus on travel, hobbies, and personal wellness. It's a response to a world where job security is less certain, and the value of experiences is often seen as equal to, if not greater than, financial accumulation. This doesn't mean they're not saving at all, but rather that their saving goals are different, often more immediate and personally meaningful.

Impact on Investment Choices

This shift in saving and spending philosophy significantly impacts investment choices. Younger investors are increasingly looking for investments that are not just financially sound but also align with their personal values. They prefer companies with strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) records, and are more likely to invest in businesses that they feel a personal connection with. This approach extends to their employment choices as well, where they seek out companies that offer more than just a paycheck, such as those offering RSUs, which provide an ownership mindset and alignment with the company's success.

The Appeal of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs)

Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) are a type of employee compensation that offers the promise of company shares at a future date, subject to certain conditions like vesting schedules. Unlike traditional stock options, RSUs don't require the employee to purchase the shares; instead, they receive them as part of their compensation package. This makes RSUs an attractive form of compensation, as they provide a direct stake in the company's future success without the upfront cost of buying shares.

RSUs Aligning with Millennial and Gen Z Values

RSUs resonate well with the values of millennials and Gen Z. These generations are not just working for a paycheck; they're looking for a sense of purpose and alignment with their employer's values. RSUs offer a sense of partnership and investment in the company's future, which is appealing to employees who want to feel like they're part of something bigger. This sense of ownership can also drive greater commitment and engagement at work, aligning personal success with the company's performance.

RSUs as a Long-term Investment Strategy

While RSUs fit well with the immediate value-driven approach of younger generations, they also serve as a smart long-term investment strategy. They allow employees to benefit from the company's growth over time, which can be particularly lucrative in startups and high-growth companies. For employees, this means a potential for significant financial gain in the future, while also enjoying the immediate benefits of being part of a company they believe in.

Changing Perspectives on Retirement and Work

The traditional view of retirement as a time to stop working and live off savings is changing, especially among younger generations. Many millennials and Gen Z workers are rethinking what retirement means, with some not planning to retire in the conventional sense at all. This shift is partly due to economic realities, but it's also about a change in values. Younger workers often seek fulfillment and purpose in their careers, which doesn't necessarily end at a certain age. This evolving perspective means that financial planning for retirement also changes, focusing less on saving for a life of leisure and more on ensuring financial stability throughout a longer and more active working life.

The Role of Work in Life

Work is no longer just a means to an end for many in the younger generations; it's an integral part of their identity and life satisfaction. This generation values work-life balance, meaningful employment, and jobs that align with their personal values. This holistic view of work and life impacts their approach to financial planning. Investments, savings, and spending are all seen through the lens of how they contribute to a fulfilling life, not just as tools for accumulating wealth for a distant future.

RSUs and the Future of Work

In this changing landscape, RSUs represent more than just another form of compensation. They are a way for employees to invest in their current workplace and their future simultaneously. For younger workers who may not see retirement in the traditional sense, RSUs offer a way to build financial stability while staying engaged and motivated in their careers. They provide a tangible connection to the success of the company, aligning personal and professional growth with financial rewards.

Practical Tips for Navigating RSU Investments

1. Understanding Your RSU Package

If you're offered RSUs, it's important to fully understand what you're getting. This means knowing the vesting schedule, the conditions under which you'll receive the shares, and what happens to your RSUs if you leave the company. It's also crucial to understand the tax implications of RSUs, as this can significantly affect your financial planning.

2. Maximizing the Benefits of RSUs

To make the most of RSUs, it's important to have a strategy. This might involve deciding when to sell the shares once they vest, based on your financial goals and the company's performance. It's also important to consider how RSUs fit into your broader investment portfolio. Diversification is key in any investment strategy, and RSUs should be a part of this, balanced with other types of investments.

3. Avoiding Common Pitfalls

There are common pitfalls to be aware of with RSUs. One major mistake is not understanding the tax implications, which can lead to unexpected tax bills. Another is not paying attention to the company's performance and market trends, which can affect the value of your RSUs. It's also important to avoid putting all your investment eggs in one basket; even if your company is doing well, diversification is crucial.

Bottom Line

The landscape of personal finance is rapidly evolving, with Gen Z and millennials leading the way. The rise of soft saving and changing perspectives on work and retirement are creating new paradigms for investment. In this environment, RSUs emerge as a compelling option, offering both immediate value and long-term potential. Understanding these trends and how RSUs fit into them is key to making informed investment decisions that align with our lifestyles and financial goals in this new era.

Want more insightful articles on RSUs? Feel free to browse Upstock’s blog to make the most of your equity compensation towards your retirement and significant life milestones.

Retain your key employees

Ensure your team is awarded based on contributions and results with Upstock’s KPI inegration feature.

Learn More

Casey Fenton

Founder, Upstock & Couchsurfing, AI and Equity Innovator

Casey Fenton, the founder of Upstock & Couchsurfing and an AI and equity innovator, has revolutionized how we perceive and implement equity in the workplace. His foresight in creating platforms that not only connect people but also align their interests towards communal and corporate prosperity has established him as a pivotal figure in technology and community building. Casey speaks worldwide on topics including ownership mindset, worker equity, With Upstock and Couchsurfing, he has demonstrated an unparalleled expertise in harnessing technology for the betterment of community interaction and organizational benefits.

Previous: How Equity Compensation Works: A Complete Guide for Employers Next: How is the Equity Distribution in Established Companies Conducted?‍