Gen Y Worried about Retirement, Turning to Advisers

September 6, 2011 ( – More than half (54%) of Gen Y investors surveyed agreed with the statement, "I'm more concerned than ever about being able to retire when I thought," according to the MFS Investing Sentiment Survey.

In addition, 44% agreed with the statement “I have lowered my expectations about the quality of my life in retirement.”   

However, 71% report they are disciplined about putting aside money for saving and investing, and 52% report an increase in savings outside of retirement accounts over the past 12 months.  

The survey found that of those who reviewed or rebalanced their investments in the past 12 months, 89% of Gen Y, more than any other age group, reported an adviser playing a key role. Sixty-nine percent reported at least consulting with an adviser regarding investment decisions, more than other age group.   

Nearly six in ten (59%) Gen Y investors have received investment advice in the past 12 months, and 42% report an increased need for investment advice in the past 12 months.

Gen Y Are Conservative Investors  

Generation Y investors are conservative investors and invest more like their Baby Boomer parents, despite their long-term time horizon, according to the MFS Investing Sentiment Survey.    

Forty percent of Gen Y agreed with the statement "I will never feel comfortable investing in the stock market.” Gen Y investors agreed they are likely to feel overwhelmed by all the choices they have (54%), put off investment decisions (47%), and consider themselves to be savers more than investors (59%).   

Thirty percent of Gen Y said their primary investment objective was protecting principal/not losing money, only marginally smaller than those who said their primary goal was growing assets, at 34%. Gen Y has allocated more money to cash than other age groups, at 30% on average -- nearly as much as they have allocated to U.S. stocks/stock funds (33%).   

Among troubling survey findings: 

  • 38% of Gen Y investors say they live paycheck to paycheck and that saving consistently is not an option. 
  • Gen Y investors were more likely than others to have increased spending on both discretionary (42%) and nondiscretionary (49%) expenses over the past 12 months and add debt as well (36%). 
  • 41% agreed that they were concerned about the amount of credit card debt their households carry.  

However, on a positive note, 64% and 78% are optimistic about the economy and their own five-year future, respectively. Gen Y is more likely than Boomers to say they are very knowledgeable/expert investors, at 39%, and 62% of Gen Y agreed that they enjoy investing.   

MFS, through Research Collaborative, an independent research firm, sponsored an online survey from May 31 to June 7, 2011, of 974 individual investors with $100,000 or more in household investable assets. All investor respondents make or share in making financial decisions for their households. Generation Y refers to investor respondents between the ages of 18-30. Generation X refers to investor respondents between the ages of 31-45. Baby Boomer or Boomers refers to investor respondents between the ages of 46-64.