Harvard Universal Press
|Number of Pages
Business & management
A radical realignment in the nature of wealth is under way-transforming ordinary individuals into powerful stewards of their own financial futures, and all corporations into risk managers. Deep structural shifts in financial markets and in economic value are profoundly altering the nature of wealth, catapulting most workers from spectators to players in the new economy. As of mid-1998, American households controlled 59 percent of all stocks held in the nation, a figure that underscores a fundamental new truth: wealth is not just for the wealthy anymore.
In business, change occurs so fast that once-internal management activities, like setting prices, are now migrating into the marketplace. The role of human resource departments will transition from managers of administrative functions to builders of human asset portfolios, as the labor market establishes a price for each employee. And strategic risk units, the complement to strategic business units, will enable companies to identify, isolate, and trade risks in financial markets.
In Future Wealth-the companion volume to the authors' bestselling book Blur, and the long-awaited follow-up to Stan Davis' famous Future Perfect-Davis and Meyer offer a compelling vision of what lies ahead. It relies on three major consequences of the newly connected economy: risk as an opportunity, not a threat; the growing efficiency of financial markets for human capital; and the need for new forms of social capital. These three developments are combining in ways that will forever change how individuals, companies, and societies create, accumulate, control, and distribute wealth.
According to Davis and Meyer, wealth creation in the Information Age has been more financial (bearing, trading, and managing risks) than real (producing and consuming goods); wealth accumulation is shifting from earned income (salaries) to unearned (investments); and control of wealth is shifting from institutions to individuals.
Davis and Meyer describe a world in the not-so-distant future in which we will trade everything of value-including human capital, talent, and other intangibles-in efficient markets. Companies will begin to invest directly in their employees, not secondarily through training and development, and to treat business units as units of financial risk whose worth equals the quality of their intellectual capital. Individuals will think less about jobs and more about investing in their own human capital. As average citizens gain more knowledge about investments, they will begin to accept higher risk for the potential of higher rewards, turning the concept of risk from threat to opportunity. But future wealth will depend not merely on a healthy appetite for risk, but also on stronger social safety nets designed to balance new individual freedoms with commensurate order.
From how we work and earn, spend and save, manage our corporations, plan our mortgages, taxes, retirement, and more-the new economy will provide opportunities for every individual to reap unprecedented rewards. Describing both the enormous possibilities and potential consequences of this exciting new world, Davis and Meyer outline the principles that will help make every person's net worth and every corporation's growth add up to a society rich in both the human, financial, and real aspects of wealth.