Understanding generational attitudes toward investing and the cognitive biases that can lead participants astray is key to helping employees of all ages improve their financial wellness and prepare for a secure and successful retirement.
Baby Boomers may be inclined to drop cognitive anchors based on early information that cements their opinions. Unfortunately, when anchoring reference points are arbitrary or uninformed, Boomers may find themselves overconfident in financial decisions that fail to serve them over the long term. And if these decisions lead them to take on excessive risk, the results could be disastrous as they approach retirement. Financial professionals can help Boomers avoid the anchoring bias and take a more objective approach to investing by using financial wellness assessment data to direct them toward individualized financial wellness resources to improve financial decision-making.
Independent and self-reliant, this cohort came into adulthood as the first generation with a world (wide web) of information at their fingertips. However, Gen Xers may allow current events or recent experiences to have an outsized influence on their financial decisions and reinforce established perceptions — this is known as the recency bias. They may, for example, be tempted to make impulsive investing decisions during or immediately following volatile markets, without fully considering whether current conditions are likely to be short-term. The recency bias can also lead some Gen X-ers to take on bigger risks in bull markets, believing that recent gains will likely persist indefinitely. In this instance, financial professionals can help such individuals step back and take a broader historical view of markets, examine economic fundamentals, reassess personal risk tolerance and review investment goals.
FOMO — or fear of missing out — can be top of mind for some millennials. And this can translate into a herding bias when it comes to their investments and the risk of jumping off a financial cliff by following the herd chasing the latest speculative investment trend. Financial professionals can help millennials fight FOMO by encouraging them to focus on investing fundamentals and creating a financial decision-making process that promotes long-term strategic thinking and prudent investing behaviors.
Gen Z values the control that knowledge and information gives them, having literally grown up knowing how to search for it online. As a result, they may be less reliant on more conventional learning settings and modalities. They came of age during a period of economic turmoil and (somewhat surprisingly) often value the stability of a traditional job over freelancing. And these young adults already recognize the importance of regular saving and investing. Time will tell whether this pragmatic and analytical tendency will turn out to be an asset for their financial decision-making over the long term. In the meantime, financial professionals can help Gen Z-ers take advantage of the benefits of investing early — and hopefully they’ll be less susceptible to retirement challenges in the future.
Even though there are generational components to behavioral finance, every employee is unique in their beliefs, attitudes and goals. An individualized assessment platform helps financial professionals tailor solutions to all employee needs, no matter their age or level of investment experience.