Much of the financial advice given to young people today makes Adam Struck cringe.
Struck — born in South Africa, raised in Los Angeles, a venture capitalist — says young people today have more access to personal financial tools and information than any previous generation. But as a result, they are also exposed to much worse advice.
“I think influencers — especially those targeting Gen Z — are too quick to recommend investing in risky asset classes that aren’t understood,” he said. “Technology has democratized access to esoteric investment options for Gen Z who are just beginning their financial journey, and this should have a positive effect in the long term, but it is important to approach investment options with a conservative mindset.”
The 35-year-old knows a thing or two about investing. After earning a JD from Georgetown Law and a management certificate from Kellogg, Struck spent time as an M&A attorney at Kirkland & Ellis. Despite landing his dream job at one of the world’s largest law firms, he felt an entrepreneurial itch that the role couldn’t scratch.
In 2011, Struck left to start Long Island Brand Beverages, selling it just a few years later. By 2015, Struck had his own $25 million investment fund. By 2017, he was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 Venture Capitalists. And by 2020, he was investing on behalf of Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. Today, between Struck Capital, Struck Crypto and Struck Studio, he has hundreds of millions in assets under management.
“I was lucky to have good mentors around me who guided me in the right direction,” Struck says of his early financial success. The best advice he got at that age, he says, was “save the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”
Who you invest in is just as important as the business plan
Social media content often portrays wealth primarily as a means to a lavish lifestyle. But for Struck, becoming a multimillionaire before his 25th birthday was much more than that. It served as a launching pad for the next phase of his career.
“Coming out at a relatively young age allowed me to put myself in the shoes of an entrepreneur,” he said. “It led to a more refined investment lens and made me realize that it’s not just about investing in a space, market or KPI – it’s about investing in the founder and assessing the soft skills that really make a difference in tough times.”
Don’t be fooled: digital currency is here to stay
Many speculated that the recent collapse of major crypto exchange FTKS would be the beginning of the end for digital currencies. But Struck thinks that’s really just the beginning. He expects physical currency to be replaced by digital alternatives, especially in countries experiencing hyperinflation and currency manipulation.
“We envision a future where all forms of assets can be tokenized on the blockchain, allowing individuals or businesses to exchange ownership and the value associated with that asset without brokers or third parties doing nothing more than ‘taxing’ and slowing down the transaction,” he said.
Basically, don’t count out cryptocurrencies. But the FTX crash should offer a warning sign to young people about investing in risky or unregulated assets, Struck said, adding that he hopes the episode will lead to more oversight in the industry.
“Regulations always lag behind substantive technological innovation,” Struck said. “We are confident that the collapse of FTKS will fuel a wave of regulation that should make crypto safer for consumers in the future, paving the way for mass adoption.”
Never forget that social media is not real
Struck’s primary financial advice for the next generation, however, has nothing to do with money. He says social media creates a dangerously inaccurate picture of wealth, leading many to pursue a life of waste, ignoring what is truly important in life.
“Although money is important, it is a means, not an end,” he said. “You can have all the money in the world, but without a strong partner and good people around you, it really doesn’t matter.” Blockchains are central to the future of finance.
Understand the future before it happens
As a venture capitalist, Struck says his job is to think about what the world will look like in 10 years and invest accordingly. For example, he is convinced that digitization of finances combined with strong oversight will help future generations weather economic storms like the one we are facing today.
Struck also believes that the future will be largely shaped by what he calls a “new industrial revolution,” as the world transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
“The underlying technology necessary to make that happen will be a huge driver of wealth, making it easier to weather macro headwinds and various economic storms,” he said.
There is a lot of bad advice out there. And while no bet is perfect, for Struck the only surefire path to success is to recognize the realities of tomorrow, not be swayed by broader investor sentiment, and find leaders with vision and the ability to execute.