Members of Generation Y, affectionately referred to as “Millennials,” seem to get a pretty bad rap. They’re often seen as self-centered, narcissistic, and having an unhealthy preoccupation with technology. Whether or not this is true is subject to debate, but here is one thing that Millennials are getting right: their concern about their financial futures.
According to Time, Millennials are planning and preparing for retirement much more so than their parents did. A new study by Fidelity, which is one of the largest financial services groups in the U.S., found that almost half of Millennials in their twenties have started saving money for retirement; about 43% take advantage of a 401(k) plan, and 23% have an individual retirement account (IRA).
Though they are already concerned with financially preparing for retirement, the problem is that Millennials are also very wary and mistrustful of financial institutions and don’t know where to turn for sound financial advice. About a quarter of them don’t trust anyone for financial advice, most would rather ask people their own age for advice, and most of them would prefer to go to the dentist over talking to a banker.
Fidelity found that the one source that Millennials do trust is their parents, since one third of them feel comfortable asking them for financial advice. According to Time, this is not necessarily a bad thing, because parents who have struggled with budgeting or debt management might have some valuable tips.
Though the number of employers who offer retirement options to their employees decreased 20% between 2000 and 2010, financial institutions are becoming keenly aware of the sway that Millennials are poised to have over the financial world. According to Time, “banks are being re-envisioned as education centers,” mobile technology is a priority, and there is a new focus on creating the types of innovative investments that Millennials want.
“Millenials are used to ongoing change and expect innovations in everything from food to finance. They are also used to absorbing innovative offerings via hands-on experimentation. In the financial world this can mean receptivity to new ideas that combine active engagement with on-going advice,” says Beth Kurth, President, The Corporate Forum.
As it stands now, 2% of retirees in America are looking for work, and about 25% of Americans in the middle class think that they will have to work until the age of 80 to be able to retire comfortably. The good news for Millennials is that although 39% of them worry about their financial futures once a week, they are beginning to save 13 years earlier, on average, than their parents.