Former Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher has said today’s young people do not view home ownership as the ultimate life goal that has long dominated their parents’ generation.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Boucher said: “When we grew up it was: ‘get a job, get a house and get married.’ It was simpler. The ‘rules’ were simpler. For you guys, you have great choice in life and that is brilliant but it also can create [a paradox of choice].”
He added: “My parents’ generation and the generation before weren’t allowed to own their own land, so their desire and hunger for it was nearly primeval.”
Millennials didn’t have the same desire for long-term security in their youthful years, he said. “I think my generation and even more so the generation before them had this desire for security. I think your generation are more comfortable and more self-confident. They feel, ‘I will always be able to get a job, I’ll always be able to do something’ whereas our generation were much more concerned with getting security earlier in life.”
He said today’s “more reflective” generation was less inclined to view a job as a vehicle purely for financial gain and more inclined to travel, rather than settle in one place for life.
“This generation wants to know: How is my contribution going? What are my company’s values? Whereas we just wanted a job.
“And if you think about people’s jobs, it’s not a job for life, you move around, a lot of people are much more internationally flexible. They don’t necessarily feel that they’d like a mortgage because they might feel ‘well either myself or my partner might like to go to America or Australia or somewhere else’.”
Although loath to give advice to millennials, given his former role as one of Ireland’s top bankers, he said: “People have to decide what their goals are” and then “make choices and sacrifices”.
But he still outlined the value of owning a home: “I do think in the longer term if you can buy a house, at least you have something.
“You have an asset. OK for a long time you might be a slave to your mortgage but that phase will be over.
“And if you are renting, you will always be a slave to someone.”
Asked if he would encourage people to move home to save money, he said: “That’s not for me to say.”
But he added: “Everyone has to make their individual choices but I think once you have made your choice then you can’t complain.”
Mr Boucher was speaking for the first time since his departure from the Bank of Ireland as he attended the annual Ireland Funds’ Rugby Lunch. More than 350 guests attended the fundraiser held traditionally on the eve of the first home game of the Six Nations Championship.
Other guests included Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the IRFU; Martin Fraser, Secretary General to the Irish Government and Emer Gilvarry, chairperson of Mason Hayes & Curran.
The Ireland Funds has raised more than $580m for causes in Ireland and abroad.