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Can Young Workers Afford to be This Conservative?

Two recent reports from PlanSponsor.com deliver eye-opening facts about the investing habits of the Millennial Generation (ages 18 to 30). Oddly enough, they’re investing like much older workers, preferring risk-averse cash investments three times as much as the stock market. The question is, can they—or their parents—afford it?

According to Nigel Green, founder and CEO of The deVere Group, the Millennials’ conservative stance might be a product of the economic environment they’ve grown up in, which includes the recessions of 2008 and 2011. Green writes, “Millennials have said they are more savers than spenders.”

Of course, saving is a good thing, and the fact that more young people are aware of the need to save is reflected in the fact that participation in 401(k) plans and IRA accounts are up—also a good thing. But without taking advantage of investments that enable them to compound their returns, experts say that Millennials’ retirement future, however distant, should be a real concern. . As Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride explains, “They won't get [to retirement readiness] without being willing to assume a little short-term price risk in their long-term money.”

Bankrate’s Financial Security Index indicates that four of the five components of financial security—job security, comfort level with debt, net worth and overall financial situation—are moving in the right direction. Even if every market experiences periodic downturns, experts agree that with their time to recover, Millennials can afford to act their age.

Kevin L. Coppola, President, Compass Investors, LLC

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