While millennials are clearly anxious about their financial future, they’re also showing surprising resilience when it comes to retirement planning and other areas compared with older generations. This is due in large part to a more cautious outlook rooted in the financial crisis that defined the times. But like those who survived the Great Depression, they’re more apt to seek financial guidance from family or friends than advisers and favor a bank over the stock market.
These are a few key takeaways for producers to ponder from a recent online survey of 2,100 U.S. adults conducted by Head Solutions Group on behalf of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. The respondents were split evenly among millennials and boomers.
Also see: “10 worst states for student loan debt.”
“The great news is that we found 72% are already saving for retirement,” says Dara Luber, a retirement and long-term investing professional at TD Ameritrade, about younger workers.
She says millennials compare favorably to baby boomers on a number of fronts. They include saving for retirement at an earlier age (26 vs. 31), as well as writing down their financial goals and budgeting (80% of millennials have one and 41% follow it most of the time). More than half of millennials also are saving for an emergency fund, while 62% identify themselves as savers.
Based on these and various other findings, researchers suggested that these young working Americans resemble depression-era Americans than their baby boomer parents or grandparents.
“Millennials were in a position to learn the value of financial preparation, having grown up in the aftermath of a recession,” according to Matthew Sadowsky, director of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade, Inc., a broker dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. “The qualities they have developed like budgeting discipline and a realistic outlook on retirement may well pave the way toward their financial future.”
But like a generation of Americans who worked nearly a century ago, they’re hemmed in by some old-school thinking that could slow their savings over time. For example, millennials consult parents (38%) and/or friends (28%) for financial advice compared with boomers preferring a professional adviser.
They’re also much more reluctant to invest money than their elders, according to Luber. In fact, more than three-quarters would rather salt away an extra $1,000 in a savings account than the stock market (77%). “This could potentially be a result of witnessing their parents go through the 2008 recession,” she observes.
In addition, millennials must contend with fear and anxiety not only about the economy, but also “student debt and escalating peer influence from social media,” Sadowsky notes. As many as 85% of the millennials respondents expressed financial insecurity, 47% are anxious about debt and 49% are concerned about outliving their assets in retirement.
Also see: “10 states with the least student loan debt.”
Another factor is peer pressure. Nearly a quarter of millennials feel compelled to keep up with the spending habits of their friends and 15% admit to spending money to make a good impression. They’re also more likely than boomers to report exceeding spending or falling short of savings goals in a given month (56% vs. 29% say this happens very often or somewhat often).
One huge obstacle is student loan debt, with about 40% of millennials making monthly payments of $200. But they also seem to have kept the issue in perspective. “Millennials are smart in that they know it is important to balance paying off student loan debt and saving for retirement,” Luber says. “However, millennials who are not saving say they cannot afford it because they have more debt.”
She recommends that brokers and advisers help their employer clients communicate the potential gains from a retirement plan “because 39% of millennials have a long-term goal of retiring at 65 or older.” Still, she says 53% are willing to retire later to maintain their desired retirement lifestyle.
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