Generations Divided About Short-Term Financial Confidence

After facing challenges resulting from the pandemic, younger participants show the most interest in receiving help from a financial professional.

The latest New York Life “Wealth Watch” survey highlights Millennials’ need for help with short-term finances. In general, Millennials are most concerned about post-pandemic budgets, according to the study, which surveyed 2,200 adults online in June.

Millennials feel little confidence in their ability to navigate their post-pandemic budgets. When asked how resuming costs paused during the pandemic would affect them, the majority of respondents (61% of all adults) said it would not impact their budgets. However, fewer than half of Millennials (47%) agreed with that statement.

In addition, a MagnifyMoney survey found that more American adults than in the past were living with their parents even before the coronavirus pandemic upended jobs and finances, sending an influx of adults back to their parents’ homes. The survey found 22% of adults receive financial support from their parents, whether it’s paying phone bills or helping with rent costs. That percentage jumps to almost 30% for Millennials—who the study says have long been called the “broke generation.”

Fifty-five percent of parents with adult children say they provide financial support to their kids at least occasionally. This is least common (46%) among Baby Boomers—the majority of whom also report not receiving financial help from their parents in adulthood.

Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise, previously told PLANADVISER that “a financial professional can play an important role in helping investors assess the long-term impact of their shifting priorities. Advice from a qualified adviser can help them navigate life’s twists and turns and stay on track to achieve their biggest financial goals for the future.”

Generational Divide When It Comes to Long-Term Financial Outlook

Meanwhile, the New York Life survey found Millennials express high levels of confidence in their long-term financial futures and retirement preparation. Gen Xers, conversely, are more confident about their short-term budgets but more uncertain about their financial futures.

“We saw the starkest differences in financial confidence among Millennials and Gen Xers, both groups that have faced unique financial challenges before and because of the pandemic,” says Aaron Ball, senior vice president, head of insurance solutions, service and marketing, New York Life.

Of all generations, Millennials are entering post-pandemic life with the most optimistic outlook. In fact, Millennials reported higher levels of confidence than both their Gen X and Generation Z counterparts that their retirement savings will last the rest of their lives (45% vs. 35% and 33%, respectively). And 68% reported confidence that they will be able to retire at their desired age, versus 62% of Gen Xers. When asked how best to describe their financial strategy, 24% of Millennials said they “absolutely” know what they are doing, compared with 18% of Gen Xers who said the same.

Even with their high level of confidence in their financial futures, Millennials were the most interested in receiving help from a financial professional (61%), followed by Gen Zers (50%). Despite reporting lower levels of long-term financial confidence, only 38% of Gen Xers indicated that they would like help from a financial professional.

Of the 12% of adults surveyed who were currently working with a financial professional, however, only 5% were Millennials. Baby Boomers were more likely than other demographics to already be working with a financial professional (21% vs. 12%).