Younger investors believe they are better off now than they were a year ago.
The economy, of late, to quote a Beatles lyric, is “getting better all the time (it couldn’t get much worse),” and Mass Affluent households surveyed by Millionaire Corner in a new first quarter wealth level study are expressing cautious optimism.
More than a third of households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) said that they are better off now than a year ago, while nearly half (49 percent) said they expect their personal financial situation to be stronger one year from now. This is up three percentage points from 2011. Still, they are thinking conservatively when it comes to investments. Forty-eight percent said it is more important that they protect their principal, up three percentage points from last year.
Then again, more of these households than last year (33 percent vs. 20 percent) said they are willing to take significant investment risk on a portion of their investments to earn a high return.
Not surprisingly, protecting one’s principal is much more important to baby boomers ages 55-64 (50 percent) and seniors 65 and older (53 percent) than it is to those under 45 (38 percent).
Conversely, 47 percent of investors 44 and under said they are willing to take a significant risk on their investments to earn a high return vs. 31 percent of boomers and 22 percent of seniors.
With more of their lives ahead of them, the under-45 crowd has a rosier view of their present financial situation. Fifty-three percent said they are better off than a year ago, compared to 37 percent of boomers and 32 percent of seniors. They are also more optimistic about their financial futures. Sixty-three percent of these respondents expect their finances to be better off a year from now, compared to 46 percent of boomers and 47 percent of seniors.
If there is any kind of silver lining in the grey cloud of the prolonged economic recovery, it is that households may be getting more debt conscious. One-quarter said they were concerned about their amount of debt, down two percentage points from the previous year. Debt is a bigger issue in the youngest households (32 percent) compared with boomers (27 percent) and seniors (16 percent). Across all age groups, concern about debt is down from last year.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.