Scottrade® Financial Behavior Study Reveals Drastic Differences Between Generations

Younger generations are more positive about the economy, but more concerned they may not be able to meet their financial goals

ST. LOUIS, January 26, 2017 – Scottrade’s latest Financial Behavior Study reveals that while younger generations are more positive about the economy, they are more concerned than older generations that they may not be able to meet their financial goals. The annual study produced by Scottrade explores the attitudes and behaviors of investors regarding finances and investing. The results show drastic differences between generations regarding their economic outlook and investing style.

Perceptions of the Economy Tend to Become Less and Less Rosy With Age
Younger generations are more positive about the economy and their own investments. Seventy-seven percent of Millennials (18-34) and 60 percent of Gen Xers (35-49) foresee the economy growing over the course of the next 12 months, compared to less than half of their older peers, 47 percent of Boomers (50-69) and 43 percent of Seniors (70+) . 

There is a similar sense of declining optimism with respect to personal investments. While most adults in all age groups are feeling confident about their investments today due to the current economy, the younger groups are even more so (77 percent of Millennials, 74 percent of Gen Xers, 62 percent of Boomers and 60 percent of Seniors).

“As they near or enter retirement, older generations may report less optimism because they are feeling more pressure about having enough money for the future,” said Joe Correnti, Scottrade’s senior vice president of brokerage strategy and product. “While younger generations may feel less stress from economic shifts since time is still on their side.”

Millennials are by far the most confident in their ability to outpace the market and feel that their portfolio will increase in the near-term, followed by Gen Xers. All age groups are fairly hopeful about their own investments due to the economy, but Millennial and Gen X investors are the most optimistic. And, Millennials are more likely to feel their personal portfolio is doing better than the market (49 percent of Millennials, 40 percent of Gen X, 28 percent of Boomers and 34 percent of Seniors).

Marginally more Millennial investors report the values of their portfolios increased over the past 12 months (79 percent of Millennials say the value of their portfolio increased, compared with 72 percent of Gen Xers, 67 percent of Boomers and 62 percent of Seniors).

Millennials Concerned About Meeting Their Financial Goals
On the other hand, a slight majority of Millennials express concern over their current financial condition and their ability to meet their financial goals. This apprehension seems to decline significantly with age, with Seniors the most upbeat. More than half of Millennials (54 percent) and 44 percent of Gen Xers are concerned they will never meet their financial goals, compared with 30 percent of Boomers and 21 percent of Seniors.

Many Millennials even worry that they will never be able to retire, which is not the case for the vast majority of Boomers and Seniors who have already neared or reached that life stage. More than four in ten Millennials (43 percent) and 35 percent of Gen Xers don’t think they will ever be able to retire, compared with very few Boomers (14 percent) and Seniors (7 percent) who are in or near retirement.

Younger Generations Are Much More Interested in Do-It-Yourself Investing
Unlike their older peers, younger investors (Millennials and Gen Xers) generally prefer to be in charge of their own investing decisions. Nearly two-thirds of Millennials (65 percent) and Gen Xers (62 percent) say they prefer to manage their investments themselves, compared with 43 percent of Boomers and 44 percent of Seniors. Boomer and Senior investors handle a greater proportion of their investments through a broker or advisor rather than on their own, compared with Millennials and Gen Xers, who have a nearly even split (Millennials 48 percent through an advisor and 52 percent on their own; Gen Xers 50 percent each; Boomers 60 percent and 40 percent; Seniors 65 percent and 35 percent).

“The access and control that technology has provided to investors is mind blowing. Younger generations may feel more confident self-directing their investment decisions in part because they have come of age with technology,” said Joe Correnti “However, personal guidance from a trusted resource can be an invaluable asset when it comes to financial planning.”

Younger investors also tend to be more skeptical on whether the guidance they receive from advisors is actually worth the money (Millennials are three times more cynical of fees than their Senior counterparts). Six in ten Millennials (61 percent) feel the fees they pay to make investments are not worth the service they get, compared with 44 percent of Gen Xers, 27 percent of Boomers and 20 percent of Seniors. That said, two-thirds of Millennials (69 percent) and Gen Xers (66 percent) wish they had access to trustworthy investment guidance, compared with 45 percent of Boomers and 27 percent of Seniors.

For more information or to read the Financial Behavior Study in full, visit Scottrade® Research Findings. To learn more about Scottrade, visit

About the Scottrade® Financial Behavior Study
Scottrade, Inc. commissioned a survey of investors to explore their attitudes and behaviors regarding investing, the economy, finance and retirement. The survey, undertaken by Harris Poll, was conducted online from July to August 2, 2016 among a nationally representative sample of 1,015 adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older who are involved in investment decisions for their household and have $2,500 or more in investments with a full-service brokerage company, online brokerage company or independent financial advisor. By looking at their responses collectively, Scottrade is able to identify trends among investors.

About Scottrade, Inc.
A leading financial services firm founded in 1980, Scottrade’s mission is to improve lives by helping people overcome barriers to financial success. Through a large, nationwide branch network, Scottrade works with millions of clients, offering them the solutions and support they need to take control of their long-term investing and trading needs. To learn more about Scottrade, visit or talk to us via social media. Member FINRA/SIPC.

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Research Findings


Learn more about Scottrade’s regular surveys of investors, traders and advisors.