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Gen Xers Are Worried About Inflation, Skeptical of Advisors: State Street

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What You Need to Know

  • Clients want to know whether it's a good time to invest and how they can protect their portfolios from inflation.
  • Gen Xers are the age group most concerned with rising inflation, with 88% citing it as a top concern.
  • Millennials were more likely than older investors to say they were comfortable with market volatility.

A big majority of investors who work with a financial advisor say they value their advisors’ insight and guidance now more than ever as it has helped them remain confident in this period of rising inflation and market volatility, according to survey results released Monday by State Street Global Advisors.

Generation X investors are the most skeptical, but they were the most likely to be worried about inflation, creating an opening for advisors, according to State Street.

The new data’s release follows the survey’s initial findings, which showed that inflation-induced stress and anxiety is influencing investors’ short-term budgeting and commitment to long-term financial goals.

It also analyzed the value financial advisors provide in periods of heightened volatility and uncertainty.

“The top two questions advisors are hearing from their clients today are, ‘Is now a good time to invest?’ and ‘How can I protect my portfolio against inflation,’” Allison Bonds, head of private wealth management at State Street Global Advisors, said in a statement. 

SSGA conducted an online survey from June 28 to July 5 among 243 adults with investable assets of $250,000 or more, in partnership with A2Bplanning and its field partner, Prodege.

Gen Xers’ Concerns

The survey found that Generation X respondents were less certain than millennials that it was better to work with a financial advisor when the market was volatile. Only 42% of Gen Xers agreed that it was, compared with 63% of millennials.

SSGA noted that a study it conducted in 2019 provided insight as to why Gen Xers resist the idea of using a financial advisor. Forty-six percent of these investors said they prefer to have full control over their investment decisions, and 41% did not trust that financial advisors have their best interest in mind. 

The new survey also found that Gen Xers are the age group most concerned with rising inflation, with 88% citing it as a top concern. 

“Advisors have an opportunity to cultivate trusting, collaborative relationships with Gen X clients who want to remain involved in making their own investment decisions to a greater extent than other generations,” Bonds said. 

She noted that Gen Xers are in their peak earning years and in the accumulation phase of their financial planning, yet they are also juggling multiple financial priorities. 

“Gen X is more likely to have children under 18 in the household, so discretionary spending can become stretched if they are also supporting aging parents,” she said.

Ups and Downs

The survey showed that today’s market volatility is making investors increasingly queasy. Asked whether they agreed with the statement, “I am comfortable with the highs and lows of financial markets,” 31% said they did — 20 percentage points lower than a year ago and about the same as at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Broken down by generation, 49% of millennials said they are comfortable with the volatility, compared with 24% of baby boomers and 22% of Gen Xers.

“Millennials possess a glass half-full mentality when it comes to their financial futures,” Bond said. “They know they have a longer time horizon to ride out the downturns and inflationary pressures.” 

She said 63% of younger investors are optimistic that they will reach their financial goals despite record inflation, whereas their older counterparts believe inflation is an obstacle to meeting their objectives.

A Good Time to Invest?

The survey asked whether now is a good time to increase investment in the market. Thirty-three percent of respondents said it was, 25% said it was not and 36% neither agreed nor disagreed that it was.

Millennials were significantly more likely than other investors to consider now a good time to invest, with 47% saying so, compared with 34% of Gen Xers and 24% of boomers.

“The old adage about investment success being about time in the market, not timing the market rings true today,” Bonds said. 

“Advisors who use a goals-based approach can help clients who are vulnerable to overreacting when markets take a downturn. This approach can help clients remain confident about their financial plan even in volatile markets.”