Uncertain Futures: 7 Myths about Millennials and Investing

Conventional wisdom offers a number of assumptions about millennials and investing. This report explores seven common assumptions and compares them with their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts.

Read the report from FINRA Foundation and CFA Institute

Report (PDF)

Conventional wisdom paints a vivid picture of millennials and their attitudes on investing. Some of the common assumptions about millennials include:

  1. Millennials have lofty goals (for example, start a business, retire at 40, etc.), which carry over to their financial goals and aspirations.
  2. Income challenges and debt are key barriers to investing.
  3. Millennials, being overconfident in general, are also overconfident in their financial lives.
  4. Millennials are wary of the financial services industry and by extension skeptical of financial professionals.
  5. Millennials likely overestimate the investable assets needed to work with a financial professional.
  6. Being digital natives, millennials naturally gravitate toward robo-advisors.
  7. Millennials as a group are homogenous and so likely have similar investing attitudes and behaviors across demographic subgroups.

To explore these assumptions, this report examines attitudes on investing among three millennial segments—those with no investment accounts of any kind, those with retirement accounts only and those with taxable investment accounts (most also owned retirement accounts)—and compares them with their Gen X and baby boomer counterparts. Data from a 2018 online survey of 2,828 millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers and a series of eight consumer focus groups are used for this analysis.

Watch the livestream panel discussion on this topic moderated by Rebecca Fender, CFA, of CFA Institute, and Gary Mottola, of FINRA Foundation with keynote by John Thiel, former vice chairman of Global Wealth and Investment Management, Bank of America.

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