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Recession Wounds Still Raw 10 Years Later: Betterment

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It’s been 10 years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a chain reaction that produced a major recession. How are investors feeling?

A new report from Betterment examines how the 2008 financial crisis is still relevant to consumers today.

“Regardless of age, income and gender, the research finds that the scars of 2008 are still very raw for a lot of people today,” the report states.

Ten years after the crash and subsequent recession, many people are still struggling to get their finances back in shape, according to Betterment.

Of those who said they were affected by the crisis, 65% said they had still not fully recovered. “While the markets have corrected, the crash may have had the most lasting effects on saving and investment habits,” the report states.

For instance, the survey finds that only 10% of total respondents invest more today than in 2008, while 66% invest less.

Looking at the survey participants who had retirement savings or a strategy in place in 2008, the survey finds that 15%​ report their employer either stopped sponsoring or stopped matching their 401(k) following the market crash.

According to the survey, 27%​ either stopped saving for retirement or contributing to their 401(k), and 14% continued to save but only in cash.

“Despite the hit to retirement accounts, we’re happy to see roughly 70% of people were still able to keep saving,” Dan Egan, Betterment’s vice president of behavioral finance and investments, said in a statement. “But what does worry us is that 41% of people didn’t have a retirement savings strategy in place at all. Another reminder that for many people, figuring out how to save more is the higher priority.”

The survey finds that 29% of respondents are making a concerted effort to save more today than they were able to in 2008. However, according to Betterment, that higher savings rate does not necessarily translate into higher investments.

Interestingly, the report also finds that people who were invested — and lost — in 2008 are the most likely to feel recovered and remain the most optimistic, the report finds.

Roughly half (47%) of survey participants were investing in 2008.

People who had money in the market when Lehman Brothers collapsed felt the pain: 93% of investors said they were affected by the crisis, and 80% said they lost money in the market, according to the report.

“But fast forward 10 years: despite losing money and being twice as likely to have been laid off or met with a salary freeze or cut, people investing in the stock market feel more recovered than those who never invested in the stock market,” the report states.

Of people investing at the time of the financial crisis, the survey finds that 41% feel fully recovered financially and 27% feel partially recovered. The report also finds that half are investing as much or more than they did 10 years ago.

More than a third have the same investment risk tolerance they did in 2008, and 17% said they consider themselves even more risk tolerant today.

Importantly, this data shows that recovery and optimism are not just a reflection of socioeconomic trends.

Of this group investing in 2008, 83% make less than $100,000 a year and 43% make less than $50,000.

A total of 2,000 U.S. residents 18 years and older — of which 1,602 were at least 18 years old in 2008 — were surveyed for this report.

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