Tomorrow’s investors: What they don’t know could hurt them

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2012

(BPT) – Whether you’re trying to secure a job in a down economy or struggling to pay off college debt, achieving the American dream today comes with some difficult obstacles. These challenges can make it tough for tomorrow’s generation of investors to see beyond their current financial needs and look ahead to what they will need 30 or 40 years down the road. As a result, many young Americans find themselves behind when it comes to establishing actionable, long-term plans for the future.

A recent survey released by TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (NYSE: AMTD) suggests that a lack of understanding and education regarding financial matters may be partly to blame.  For example, the survey found that over two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents report having no specific retirement savings goal. Among those who do have a specific goal, the average amount is $750,000, regardless of age. The reality is, however, that this amount may not be practical, particularly for younger investors, given that inflation and rising health care costs could significantly impact financial needs over time.  

Additional research uncovered the financial attitudes of Generation Z, who range in age from 13 to 22, to be even more eye-opening. While the survey found that Gen Z has a basic understanding of establishing a budget and saving, their outlook on retirement savings remains worrisome as nearly 40 percent (39 percent) percent of Gen Z respondents believe they will have an inheritance, and therefore do not need to worry about saving for retirement.

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And so these findings beg the question, are today’s young investors destined for financial failure down the road?

“While younger generations are dealing with a number of financial challenges, there are many reasons to remain optimistic,” says Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services for TD Ameritrade, Inc. “The good news is that time is on their side and they still have plenty of time to hone their financial skills, become more educated and establish a solid plan for the future.”

Braxdale suggests both sophisticated and novice investors alike take advantage of free financial resources that can help them navigate life’s stages. Life 2.0 from TD Ameritrade is a website that offers investors valuable tools and information on financial decisions that will help them pursue their financial goals, whether they are recent college graduates, starting a family or pursuing an estate plan.

Another helpful website is LearnVest offers engaging content, tools, and through LearnVest Planning Services, provides financial plans delivered by its in-house team of Certified Financial Planners. These financial plans are customized to help clients tackle their unique financial situations and work toward their goals.