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Spring 2017 Merrill Edge Report

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Key findings from the Spring 2017 Merrill Edge Report

On May 19, 2017, Bank of America released the Spring 2017 Merrill Edge Report, a biannual study that offers an in-depth perspective at the financial concerns, priorities and behaviors of mass affluent Americans. Findings include:


Millennials Outperform Everyone in Saving, but Not for What You’d Think

Millennials are saving for their desired lifestyle, not retirement

This spring, Merrill Edge Report data revealed that millennials are charting unexplored territory as the first generation to plan for financial freedom over retirement. Sixty-three percent of millennials are looking to achieve the amount of savings or income necessary to live their desired lifestyle, compared to 55 percent of Gen Xers and baby boomers who are saving to leave the workforce.

Millennials are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to focus on personal milestones, such as working their dream job (42 percent, compared to 23 percent), while today’s 18- to 34-year-olds are less likely to prioritize familial milestones, such as being married (43 percent, compared to 51 percent) and being a parent (36 percent, compared to 59 percent).

The majority of millennials say they’re more likely to spend money on traveling (81 percent) and dining out (65 percent) than saving for their financial future.


Stereotype Aside, Millennials Save the Most

Broader savings gap leaves many unprepared for life’s “what-ifs”

Every generation views their elders as superior savers. Fifty-four percent say the Greatest Generation does a “very good” job at saving, followed by baby boomers at 45 percent, Gen Xers at 19 percent and millennials at 8 percent.

Despite this perception, millennials are saving 36 percent more of their annual salary compared to generational counterparts—thirty-six percent are putting more than 20 percent of their salary toward savings goals.

A lack of overall savings is evident. Many (42 percent) adults are saving less than 10 percent of their salary, including 7 percent who don’t save at all. When planning for life’s unexpected scenarios, 71 percent are not very confident they could achieve financial goals if they were to get divorced, with just 5 percent planning for the possibility. Additionally, 64 percent say they are not very confident they could be financially successful if they had children, with just 23 percent saving for a family.


The Next Decade of Investing

Americans embrace new technology, expect more flexibility

Many welcome new ways to make more informed investment decisions and receive guidance. Americans say they make and manage their investments through an online or mobile portal (40 percent), and currently use a robo advisor (13 percent) or would consider using one in the next year. Respondents cite these advancements make them feel knowledgeable (51 percent), empowered (31 percent) and savvy (14 percent).

Looking to the next decade of investing, many Americans believe emerging technologies will allow more people to invest (41 percent), most investments will be automated (34 percent), and the 401(k) account will no longer be the “gold standard” (29 percent).


Merrill Edge Report Methodology

Convergys (an independent market research company) conducted a nationally representative, panel sample online survey on behalf of Merrill Edge March 21-April 5, 2017. The survey consisted of 1,023 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S. Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000 or those aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. For this purpose, investable assets consists of the value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: Los Angeles, Dallas, South Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample and about +/- 5.6 percent for the oversample markets, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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News Releases and Additional Information

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Executive Biographies

  • Dean Athanasia, president of Preferred and Small Business Banking, Bank of America
  • Aron Levine, managing director and head of Preferred Banking and Investments, Bank of America
  • John Thiel, head of U.S. Wealth Management and the Private Banking and Investment Group, Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management

 

For More Information

For more information about Merrill Edge and the Merrill Edge Report, please contact Mike Conner, Bank of America, 1.980.386.8359.