By Michael Crook, Head Americas UHNW and Institutional Strategy, UBS
I was recently asked to do an interview about “Why Millennials are not saving for retirement.” The lazy answers write themselves: Millennials are too focused on paying $15 for avocado toast to think about the future, they don’t have a strong work ethic, they can’t find jobs, they have student loans they have to pay off, and on and on. Standard “these kids today” types of answers.
Unfortunately, the data doesn't back up the stereotypes at all.
The youngest Millennials just graduated from college last year, so Millennials now comprise the entire 35-and-under working age group. When you consider where they are at in their life cycle, they are just as likely to save money as Gen X and the Boomers, they are more likely to have retirement accounts, they are equally or more likely to have stock holdings, they have just as much inflation-adjusted wealth in stocks and they hold an equal share of their financial assets in stocks. There’s literally nothing unique about how Millennials save and invest, except that they are more likely to also have to deal with student loan debt (that stereotype is true).
To be fair to Boomers, it’s much easier to invest today than it was in 1989. Many Boomers also had the expectation of receiving a pension, which meant that they were less motivated to save for retirement. But back to the main point—perhaps in an ideal world we would all save more, but Millennials seem to be right on track when we compare them to previous generations.