The dot-com crash and the Great Recession have taken a serious and lasting toll on the risk appetites of Generation Y, according to the latest MFS Investing Sentiment Survey. This generation, between the ages of 18 and 30, are “investing more like their parents and grandparents, many of whom grew up in the shadows of the Great Depression,” said William Finnegan, senior managing director of U.S. retail marketing for MFS.
“Similarly, many Gen Y’s reached investing age during the dot-com bust, lived through 2008’s Great recession and continue to experience significant economic uncertainty and market volatility today,” Finnegan said.
Forty percent of the Gen Y’s who MFS surveyed agreed with the statement, “I will never feel comfortable investing in the stock market.” Fifty-nine percent they consider themselves to be savers, rather than investors, 54% said they are overwhelmed by all of the investment choices available to them, and 47% are procrastinating investment decisions.
Although 34% said their primary investment goal is growing assets, 30% of Gen Y said it was to protect their principal and not lose any money. Likewise, 30% have allocated at least a portion of their portfolio to cash, while 33% have stock or stock fund holdings.
Fifty-four percent agreed with the statement, “I’m more concerned than ever about being able to retire when I thought” and 44% have “lowered their expectations about the quality of their life in retirement.”
While Gen Y seems entirely risk averse, they are open to working with advisers—opening the door to financial advice and stock investing a crack, Finnegan said.
“Gen Y investors are engaged with advisers, take an active interest in managing their portfolios and are generally optimistic about their own futures,” Finnegan said. Indeed, 64% of Gen Y is optimistic about the economy, and 74% are hopeful about their own financial futures.
Further, 62% of Gen Y say they enjoy investing, and 69% have at least consulted with a financial adviser. Seventy-one say they are disciplined about setting money aside for saving and investing, with 52% having put at least some money into a non-retirement account in the past 12 months.
“Whether wealth is transferred to Gen Y from older generations or they generate it themselves, it is a demographic imperative that the financial services industry embraces younger investors,” added Finnegan, who noted that Generation Y is 77 million strong, with annual spending power of $1 trillion.