Millennials wary of financial risks

  • Focus
  • Monday, 09 Nov 2015


Americans in their 20s and 30s tend to be wary of big purchases, hence the preference to rent ratherthan buy and the lack of enthusiasm for equities. Mostly, they are reacting to and learning from theirparents’ experience.

MILLENNIALS are starting to earn real money. The oldest of them are pushing 35, an age that is considered by some to be — OMG — middle age.

In previous generations, they would be fully independent grownups. But these days, the cord cutting seems to be limited to televisions.

As millennials make big, life-changing purchases, such as buying their first home, they do not want to go it alone, according to new data from Ameriprise Financial.

When it comes to major purchases, millennials with investable assets over US$25,000 are more likely than older generations to rely on advice from someone else. That person is often mum, dad, other family members and older, more experienced people, in general.

And they will be spending more in 2016.

A recent report from Merrill Edge found 61% of millennials expect to spend more this coming year, compared with Generation X-ers, baby boomers and seniors (26%).

Millennials are simply reacting to the world they grew up in. This is, after all, the generation raised by helicopter parents. So why change? After all, even Google has a “take your parents to work” day. If Kim Kardashian can turn to her mother, or “Momager” as she is often called, for advice, why not everyone else?

“While millennials may have a tendency to be more impulsive about certain decisions, recent research leads me to believe that the majority are really trying to learn from what their parents went through and are using that knowledge to make informed financial choices,” says Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise.

Millennials tread carefully when it comes to laying out the big bucks. They also treat their money differently compared to previous generations. They are three times more likely than other generational groups to justify a large expense if it generates lasting memories, according to Merrill Edge.

It’s not about the ownership — it is about the experience.

This is a generation that wants to have stuff but is wary of the risks of ownership. So far, they prefer to lease cars, not buy them. And they have no aversion to renting clothing for a big event.

Not all risk is bad, though, warns Keckler. It just has to be appropriate. For example, many millennials are wary of stocks because they saw their parents’ savings get whacked after the Internet bubble, taking more than a decade to recover.

“This generation is just starting to enter their strong earning years, so they are moving past the point where the majority of their spending is concentrated on essentials and paying down debt,” Keckler says.

“Now, millennials are focusing on their future and looking at buying a new car, a home, and other big investments,” she adds.

One thing some millennials are particularly wary of is investing in stocks. According to data from Ameriprise, 11% stay out of the stock market when it becomes volatile, and 14% are making investments guaranteed to never lose money.

“They have not seen a massive bull market like we did in the 90s,” notes Cary Carbonaro, a certified financial planner and author of The Money Queen’s Guide. The 2000s were the lost decade. It was the only time when you barely made money, and only if you did everything right.”

While millennials pay attention to what mom and dad have to say, Ameriprise found that they also want other advice from outside sources. That can come from investment advisers as well as online tools.

In addition to working with a financial planner, which is always a good idea, Carbonaro recommends Khan Academy videos for young people looking to get up to speed. At the very least, they will know the questions to ask when they do go to a planner for advice.

She says many planners will work with young people starting out for as little as US$100 an hour.

But when it comes to the bottom line on money advice, the millennials know, no one will ever have their back like mum and dad. — Reuters

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Business , Central Region , millennials , money


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