07.17.2019
By John D'Antona

Americans Fear Stocks More Than Retirement

What me worry?

Yep. American investors are worried about many things and retirement often tops the list of concerns. But they fear today’s volatile and electronically driven stock market more than retirement, according to a new survey. Gains and losses in the stock market can provoke a wide range of emotional responses, from jumping for joy to falling into a fetal position. But a recent MagnifyMoney survey found 60% of Americans feel anxiety when they think about investing in the market, and that reluctance to embrace investing may be costing them when it comes to retirement savings.

First, let’s look at the biggest reason for the fear. The biggest reason Americans don’t like the stock market is because they are afraid they’ll lose their money in a market downturn or a crash. The survey found that almost 61% of Americans hesitate to invest in the stock market because of a potential crash. But not every demographic feels that anxiety equally: almost 72% of millennials worry about a crash, compared with only 56% of Gen Xers and 55% of baby boomers, despite the fact that the younger millennials have more time to absorb and make up for losses in the market.

And what about gender? Men tend to be more risk driven and the numbers bear it out – 59% of men were willing to accept the risk of losing money in the market if it gave them the possibility of a big windfall, while 58% of women didn’t think the loss of any money was worth investing in the market. Females also worry more about making a mistake with their investment decisions — 63% of women versus 53% of men — and are less likely to have an investment account — 44% of women have accounts versus 60% of men.

According to MagnifyMoney, more than half of the respondents have an investment account, and most of them (67%) have one thanks to their employer. Forty-two percent have an Individual Retirement Account while 28% have a mutual fund or family of funds or brokerage account.

The survey also reported that Americans who don’t invest in the stock market also lag woefully behind on their retirement savings. Less than half of the country’s women have an investment account, and only 36% of them report feeling on-track with their retirement savings, according to a 2018 study by Prudential. And that sense of falling behind isn’t just a feeling — a separate survey from Student Loan Hero, which is owned by MagnifyMoney’s parent, found women have saved on average only half as much as men.

A separate report from the nonprofit National Institute on Retirement Security found that millennials as a whole have “earned about 20% less in wages, are less likely to own a home, and have accumulated about half of the wealth of their parents at the same stage in their lives.” A separate MagnifyMoney corroborates the NIRS reporting a median savings of $23,000, instead of the $112,000 many financial experts would recommend.

MagnifyMoney survey canvassed 1,050 Americans, 541 of whom have an investment account.

 

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