Yesterday I saw a note come through our research headlines about millennial investors finally beginning to move into stock investing. The Legg Mason annual Global Investment Survey was the source of the information. Thanks to Legg Mason, you may access it at https://ww2.leggmason.com/gis/.
To save you some time, here is the gist of the findings. Not surprisingly, the millennials—defined as between 18 and 35 or so now—have been scarred by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and its aftermath of painfully slow recovery.
Perhaps because the Federal Reserve and many others still refer to our economy as so fragile, US survey participants were far more likely to say they are still strongly influenced by it. Of millennials, that strong influence was admitted by almost 60 percent. With that bogeyman still in the house, it is no wonder that they have been afraid to invest in stocks. An incredible 85 percent of them self-describe as strongly or somewhat conservative in their investing.
Therefore, at a time when they have the longest time horizon for investing before retirement and arguably can bear the greatest short term risk, millennials report to holding only 15 percent of their investment portfolios in equities (owning companies through stock). This matches up with their great grandparents’ experience from the Depression era. It took until December, 1954, for the stock market to recover its 1929 peak of 386 points on the Dow Jones Industrials average since many would never, ever invest in equities again.
Today’s younger adults are doing their best to use all forms of technology for their financial information and management. Even so, 53 percent of them agree that personal customer service is important to them and technology will never replace it. They appreciate technology but want to know that there is an expert, a person, behind it to help advise them.
Baby Boomers are even more likely to seek advice from a person or persons. They have returned in greater numbers to former investing strategies favoring stocks. They have seen the booms and busts before. They—we–should tell our children and grandchildren that all life involves risk, but there are wise principles to help you manage it and even to benefit from that fact. I would stress that it is when the future looks dimmest (when most others have sold) that investing becomes much safer. Do not invest with your emotions.
More good news about millennials is that I observe that they are less inclined to borrow their way into prosperity as many of us oldsters did or tried to do. The exception unfortunately is the massive student debt encouraged by our government and some leaders telling them they must get a college degree, whether it is in engineering or anthropology or archaeology. (The latter two are economically the worst according to www.forbes.com.)
(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature. Market statistics are from TC2000, Worden Brothers, Inc., 2017.)