Millennials are less likely to plan ahead than older generations, according to two recent studies.
A recent financial wellness survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) found that 50% of Generation Y — more than the reported 35% of Generation X and 25% of boomers — have not done anything to prepare for retirement.
Moreover, the UBS Investor Watch for 1Q 2015 also found that millennials aren’t planning.
“Our research shows that, across the different generations, millennials say they are least likely to plan ahead, focus on the long term, stay calm during volatility and avoid herd mentality,” states the UBS Investor Watch.
Evidence of this is in the percentage of millennials, more than any other generation, that report they wish they had done something differently with their money during the financial crisis and the following rebound.
Participants were asked “Looking back, do you wish you had done anything differently during the financial crisis or afterwards?” and 70% of millennials responded “yes” – compared with the 51% of boomers and 63% of Gen Xers.
Some of this regret may be due to millennials’ lack of financial knowledge. The UBS Investor Watch found that “many millennials have limited knowledge of financial concepts and terminology, compared with other generations.”
Of the millennials surveyed, 4 out of 10 understand “liquidity,” 3 out of 10 understand “market capitalization” and “basis points,” and just 2 out of 10 understand “Roth IRAs” and “beta.”
“Millennials’ limited financial acumen may contribute to their reluctance to invest in financial markets,” UBS Investor Watch states. “They hold significantly more cash than any other generation, despite their longer time horizons.”
Millennials’ investment approach tends toward the extremes. Some exercise excessive caution and are much more likely to feel they don’t know enough about investing to achieve their goals. Others are more likely to think they are skilled at picking individual investments and at timing the market.
On a positive note, UBS found that millennials “understand they could benefit from increased financial knowledge, and they are more interested in learning about investing than other generations.”
In fact, the MDRT survey results show that millennials place saving, investing and financial planning at the top of what they consider important financial advice.
When asked what the most important piece of financial advice is, Millennials said it’s to start saving/investing (29%) and make a financial plan (28%). Their older counterparts noted paying off high-interest debt as most important, Generation X (28%) and Boomers (28%).
So, all hope is not lost for millennials. In another hopeful finding, MDRT reports that more millennials than Gen Xers have talked to an advisor.
According to MDRT, which is a global, independent association of more than 42,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 470 companies in 71 countries, 10% of millennials note they have spoken to an advisor to prepare for retirement, which is just a little bit better than the 7% of Gen Xers.
“The findings in this survey reinforce the need for people to speak to a financial advisor and develop a tailored plan to accomplish their short and long-term financial goals,” said James Pittman, secretary of MDRT, in a statement.
The MDRT study was conducted online from Dec. 29-31 among 2,041 U.S. adults, among which 523 were Gen Y/millennials, 775 were Gen X, and 743 were boomers.
The UBS Investor Watch surveyed 3,031 U.S. investors from Dec. 1-8, with an oversample for younger generations with 545 millennials (respondents ages 21 to 29 with at least $75,000 in household income or $50,000 in investable assets and respondents ages 30 – 36 with at least $100,000 in household income or $100,000 in investable assets) and 267 Gen Xers (respondents ages 37 – 49 with at least $250,000 in investable assets).
— Have you read Want to Lure Millennials? Forget ‘Retirement Planning’ on ThinkAdvisor?