Individualism Defines Millennials’ Financial Future

With one-quarter of a century until the first of them turn 65, Millennials very much view themselves as "on their own" with regard to retirement income, according to an IRI report.

The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) has published a new analysis of the investing and savings habits of the Millennial generation, finding many are “saving for what they see as the biggest benefit of being retired,” which for this generation is “freedom.”

According to biannual survey data provided by IRI, more than half of Millennials are making contributions to 401(k) accounts and about four in 10 are contributing to personal savings. At the same time, Millennials’ understanding and expectations for retirement are influenced by their lack of confidence in Social Security retirement benefits and the demise of the traditional defined benefit pension. Only one in four Millennials believe Social Security “will provide meaningful income” during their retirement years, versus 53% who believe they will “realize meaningful income from a workplace retirement account.”

In this cut of the data, IRI finds only one-quarter of Millennials are “confident they will realize meaningful income generated from these sources.”

“It is encouraging to see Millennials saving for retirement and contributing to workplace and personal retirement accounts,” observes IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford. “While Millennials are saving, most are not planning, with only 34% of them having sought the advice of a financial adviser.”

As Weatherford lays out, the top three financial areas Millennials want help with are calculating retirement savings goals, paying off debt, and creating a retirement plan. Thus, advisers and plan sponsors alike have an opportunity to help Millennials increase their wealth and prepare for a sustainable retirement.

“Millennials also demonstrate a desire for guaranteed lifetime income and 93% are open to purchasing an annuity,” Weatherford suggests. Important to note, this figure describing the number of people who are “interested” in annuities far outstrips the actual usage of annuities by Millennials or the older generations.

Weatherford has described this disconnect as devastating to American savers and the advisers who are trying to serve the best interests of their clients. She argues retirees need guarantees to protect their lifetime income, “and our research proves people want this benefit.”

“It’s our job to educate Americans and ensure they know annuities are designed to prevent consumers from outliving their income so they can live the retirement they want,” she concludes.

The IRI research shows four in 10 Millennials cite trust as their top consideration in choosing a financial adviser, compared with 21% naming the ability of the adviser to provide services they cannot perform themselves as their top consideration. Furthermore, IRI finds nine in 10 Millennials are open to using their parents’ financial advisers.