Millennials have been stereotyped as having careless spending and saving habits. However, the results of a new survey released by the Nationwide Retirement Institute found that members of this generation have applied what they’ve learned from living through financial crises and are more proactive about their finances than those stereotypes have suggested.

The seventh annual Advisor Authority study found that Millennials with investable assets of $100,000 or more reported that the 2008 financial crisis and the 2020 global pandemic have made them more cautious, proactive, and confident in the way they face the future.

Nearly eight in 10 Millennials (79%) are concerned about a U.S. economic recession, compared to 71% of Generation X and 63% of Baby Boomers. Despite these concerns, more than half of Millennials (56%) are confident they can protect their finances and investments should another crisis occur, compared to only 43% of Gen X and 33% of Boomers. In fact, Millennials’ financial outlook for the next 12 months grew more optimistic, to 54% in 2021 from 38% in 2020, exceeding Gen X (49% from 40%) and Boomers (45% from 33%).

“Compared to other generations, Millennials have lived through more formative events, including three significant financial crises, in a short time span. Those disruptions have increased their awareness of the importance of planning for the unexpected and taking ownership of their financial futures,” said Kristi Martin Rodriguez, senior vice president of the Nationwide Retirement Institute. “Our data shows the old stereotypes are either untrue or out of date. Millennial investors are focused on taking steps to achieve financial stability now while preparing for unforeseen events on their way to a secure retirement.”

Three-fifths of Millennials (60%) are confident in their ability to prepare for and live in retirement based on their experiences living through past financial crises. Further, over three-quarters of Millennials (78%) have a strategy in place to protect against outliving their savings, and those who have a strategy will do so by leveraging Social Security (47%), in-plan income guarantees (38%), dividend-yielding stocks (31%), and longevity insurance/deferred income annuities (31%).

Millennials’ prioritization of risk mitigation strategies for short-term protection have carried over to their long-term planning. More Millennials are likely to choose an annuity to protect against market risk (85% in 2021 vs. 72% in 2020) than before. Millennials are also actively seeking the advice of financial professionals, with 66% already working with one.

This is a prime opportunity for financial advisors to start building relationships with the 34% of Millennials not currently getting financial advice.

“Millennials are experiencing a financial awakening and it is so important that advisors and financial professionals start preparing to serve their unique needs,” said Rodriguez. “Those who can establish long-term relationships with Millennial clients have a tremendous opportunity to grow their practices and help the next generation prepare for a secure retirement.”

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