MFS: Millennials may be a lost generation of investors

Graphic courtesy of MFS.
Graphic courtesy of MFS.

Still gun-shy from the recession of 2008, adults 34 and younger are deeply skeptical of investing in the stock market, far more so than previous generations, concludes a new survey commissioned by MFS Investment Management, a global asset manager with offices in Boston.

Adults 34 and younger are sometimes called millennials, but MFS also refers to this age group as the “new conservatives” because despite some good economic news last year that included a bull market and improvement in the housing market, the skepticism of millennials has seemingly deepened.

In June 2001, the MFS Investing Sentiment Insights survey found that 40 percent of the millennials that participated in the survey agreed with the statement that they would never be comfortable investing in the market. When that question was asked again last November, 46 percent of millennials agreed with that statement.

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“The data confirm that we have a lost generation of investors,” William Finnegan, senior managing director and head of Global Retail Marketing for MFS, said in a statement. “The impact of 2008’s Great Recession has had a deep-seated secular impact on millennial investors. Their grandparents are more aggressive investors. The textbook says, given their time horizon, that millennials will be all right once the economy improves, but reality shows these ‘recession babies’ don’t trust the markets and have embraced a conservative approach that could prevent them from reaching their long-term financial goals.”

MFS drew its conclusions about millennials after commissioning a research firm called Research Collaborative to conduct a nationwide survey in early November. To participate in the survey, an individual had to have $100,000 or more in household investable assets. All told, 958 investors of various ages participated in the survey, including 209 millennials.