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High-Income Millennials Put Retirement Savings Ahead of Student Loans: Survey

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A new Spectrem Group report on millennials focuses on income levels rather than net worth in an effort to discover how this generation of high earners is using its significant income to create a portfolio of investment and savings vehicles.

Spectrem noted that the oldest millennials are approaching 40, and the way in which they invest their money has implications for the future of the advisory industry.

“As America’s largest generation, millennials have fully arrived as investors,’’ Spectrem’s president George Walper Jr. said in a statement. “They matter now to all financial advisors and providers who are paying attention to generational changes among investors.”

The research was restricted to millennials with minimum annual incomes of $100,000 for singles and $150,000 for couples. It was conducted between May and August, and involved 443 participants.

Two-thirds of high-income millennials in the study had education-related debt, but only about half reported a personal financial effect from their student loans.

This is in contrast to the situation millions of Americans burdened with student loan debt find themselves in.

The Spectrem research found that high-income millennials placed a higher priority on saving for retirement than paying off student loans.

At the same time, more than half agreed or strongly agreed that their education-related debt prevented them from contributing as much as they would like to their 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement program.

The study shed light on how high-income millennials are saving or spending their money, and how they are allocating their investable assets.

Among the findings, 53% of millennials defined success as the ability to afford leisure activities, while 45% said it was raising a family.

About half purported to be more concerned about their aging parents’ health than about their own, which could influence their investing decisions, Spectrem noted.

Three in four millennials in the study said they planned to retire between the ages of 50 and 70. Spectrem said this indicated that few put themselves in the “I will never be able to retire” or “I don’t plan to ever retire” categories.

Slightly less than half of high-income millennials reported that they had a financial advisor, and a comparatively higher percentage of younger ones said they had found their advisor through advertisements rather than from referrals.

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