As a teenager, you likely hit up Mom and Dad for money. Maybe you still do that—but as a young adults, you’re also likely to hit them up for money advice, according to two new studies.
Fidelity’s first ever Millennial Money Study reveals that parents rank as the top choice for trusted money advice: 33 percent of the study’s participants (a group comprised of 25-34 year olds with at least one living parent).
Yet almost one in four (23 percent) indicate they trust “no one” when it comes to that topic, making it the second most common response.
There may be some overlap in Fidelity’s findings, as 59 percent consider their parents to be good financial role models. Still there’s a clear split between lending an ear and lending a hand. Many in the Gen Y study say it’s not that hard to get a money talk going with their parents, but almost half (49 percent) acknowledged that they never receive financial advice from their parents.
Part of that may be easy to explain without Fidelity’s help: How many of us tuned out our parents’ advice years ago? That said, some counsel would be especially welcome in the thornier areas of personal finance. Two-thirds of participants (67 percent) haven’t had detailed conversations with their parents about crucial issues such as estate planning, health and elder care, and covering living expenses in retirement.
The Fidelity report comes out just as TIAA-CREF has released its annual Gen Y Advice Matters Survey, which reflects a complementary picture. The results show that adults age 18-34 are more likely than the general population to involve their parents in search of advice (47 percent vs. 19 percent).
Could it be that we really get along better with our parents than Gen Xers, or perhaps even Baby Boomers?
“According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Y and their parents have much less generational conflict than any generation before,” says Amy Podzius, director of the Field Consulting Group at TIAA-CREF. “Frequency of communication and levels of trust between Gen Y and their parents are extremely high. So many see their parents as resources for advice on financial and other matters, and see these conversations as a path to greater independence.”
The TIAA-CREF survey also reveals the changing face of finance in a digital age. This year, 55 percent say that their first choice for receiving financial advice is via face-to-face meetings. Yet that number dropped from 65 percent in 2012, as more Gen Yers continue to select online advice as their first choice.
And here’s a finding that any Money Under 30 reader can appreciate: 79 percent of those surveyed by TIAA-CREF say it would be helpful to have advice that’s customized for their age group. (You can thanks us later.)
Then there’s interpersonal networking. The TIAA-CREF findings show that 70 percent turn to their family and friends, 45 percent look to their employer, and 17 percent turn to social media. Yet there’s not a whole lot of traction among Gen Y and financial advisors. Part of that might involve fears of the costs involved. But it’s also an issue of trust.
“Few Gen Yers have ever had contact with an advisor, and many are uncertain how that relationship would play out,” Podzius says. “One of our educational videos, “What is a financial advisor? Do I need one?”, already has more than 7,000 views, suggesting that this question is on Gen Y minds. Friends are a valuable resource, but advisors can offer specialized expertise that can help Gen Yers reach their goals faster.”
If one of those goals is retirement, you might be surprised to learn that it already matters to those around you. Fidelity found that nearly half of those surveyed (47 percent) have already started saving for retirement; 43 percent say they have a 401(k), while 23 percent have an IRA.
Both Fidelity and TIAA-CREF offer lots of resources designed to help those in the Money Under 30 cohort. Kathy Murphy, Fidelity’s president of personal investing, has an outstanding post on LinkedIn: “If I Were 22 – Get a Financial Head Start.”
Retirement is just one of the subjects she tackles in the post, where she states: “Time is one of the greatest financial opportunities available—a gift really—to new grads. Those who start saving [for retirement] now are giving themselves a tremendous financial head start.”
Fidelity also has a MyMoney website with tools, videos and resources targeted to people at the early stages of their investing lives. And as for TIAA-CREF, you can check out their website geared toward the needs of young professionals called Starting Your Financial Life. It features the personal stories of young adults embarking of the road to financial health and wealth.
Wherever or however you get your advice, use common sense in making the call. You may love your parents, but if their lives reflect financial chaos, their monetary insights will be dubious at best—unless they share the mistakes they made and how to avoid them. Some of your wealthy friends may fancy themselves as financial whiz kids, but do they spend the dough as fast as they make it? Or have they already become slaves to consumerism and credit card debt?
Oftentimes, the key to the future lies in the past. Look at your parents, and the journey they started before you were born. If they provided well for you, helped you get through college and stewarded their money like a precious resource, then it’s time to go back to school. Open up your laptop and ask them to teach you what they know. When they start speaking, start typing. There will be a test afterwards, and it’s called life.