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Americans Divided in Their Views of the Economy: Edward Jones

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What You Need to Know

  • Forty-five percent of respondents said they are optimistic about the economy, while 42% are pessimistic.
  • Their biggest concerns are inflation, supply chain disruptions, interest rates and the unemployment rate.
  • Twenty-one percent acknowledged making primarily emotional decisions regarding their finances, including 37% of Generation Z investors.

Americans in a new survey from Edward Jones are about equally divided in their views on the state of the U.S. economy.

Forty-five percent said they are optimistic about the direction of the economy, while 42% are pessimistic. Respondents’ top concerns:

  • Inflation: 83%.
  • Supply chain disruptions: 77%.
  • Employment rate: 71%.
  • Interest rates: 71%.

According to the survey, the more worried respondents said they are with economic conditions, the bigger the effect those concerns have on their financial decisions. Forty-one percent said they have considered the rate of inflation when making financial decisions in the last nine months.

“Americans have certainly been faced with disruptive conditions over the past year,” Mona Mahajan, senior investment strategist at Edward Jones, said in a statement.

“While we may see increased levels of market volatility in this backdrop, we believe economic fundamentals remain solid; it’s important to not let fear, anxiety or even excitement about markets derail long-term goals and thoughtfully considered financial strategies.”

Morning Consult conducted the survey in early January among a national sample of 2,200 adults.

Emotional Investing

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they have carefully planned their financial decisions over the past nine months despite economic uncertainty stemming from the pandemic. 

Still, 21% acknowledged making primarily emotional decisions regarding their finances, including 37% of Generation Z investors.

Asked what factors they consider when making financial decisions, 30% of survey participants cited careful financial planning, 23% said they seek advice from family and friends, 23% watch the market and 22% ask a financial professional for advice.

Seventy-nine percent of those who consult a financial advisor said they work with one on a regular basis. Edward Jones said this underscores the importance of having an advisor help stay on track to meet goals.

“Unfortunately, people often make changes to their portfolios that are not in their best interest just to satisfy that need to do something,” Laurel Newman, behavioral scientist at Edward Jones, said in the statement. 

“Investors do not need to make financial decisions in a vacuum, however. A financial advisor can help investors determine when it’s best to act (and how), vs. when it’s best to sit tight and ride things out.” 

Expectations of Advisors Evolve

The Edward Jones survey found that Americans’ needs from their financial advisors are changing. 

Fifty-four percent of participants who are working with financial advisors cited a variety of factors — the coronavirus, interest rates, the unemployment rate — that have changed their expectations of their advisor. This figure rises to 75% for millennials who work with advisors. 

Trusted financial advisors can help build financial resilience in two important ways, according to the survey. Twenty-five percent of respondents working with a financial advisor said they feel less stress and 16% less frustration. Seventy-two percent said working with an advisor eased their anxiety around financial decisions, and 61% said it mitigated their concern.