NEW YORK — Investing in the stock market has always come with a certain amount of risk, but there is also potential to for big earnings and financial stability later on in life. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 Americans, it seems more and more people are becoming wary of the market and its volatility: 60% of respondents said they feel anxiety when considering whether or not to invest in stocks.
The survey, commissioned by MagnifyMoney, was equally proportioned among respondents to accurately represent baby boomers, millennials, and generation Xers.
So, why are Americans becoming so scared of Wall Street? The most prevalent answer was fear of a sudden recession or downturn in the market; 61% of respondents said they hesitate to invest due to fear of a potential market crash. Interestingly, different generations seem to be more nervous than others: nearly 72% of millennial respondents said they worry about a stock market crash, compared to 56% of gen Xers and 55% of baby boomers.
The survey also identified differences among men and women when it came to investing risks. In all, 59% of male respondents said they would be willing to take on some risk if it gave them the opportunity to make big money. Conversely, 58% of female respondents said they didn’t believe investing in the stock market was worth the risk. Female respondents also seemed to worry more about making investment mistakes (63% of surveyed women compared to 53% of surveyed men) and were less likely to have an investment account (44% of surveyed women compared to 60% of surveyed men).
Despite all that market-induced anxiety, the majority of surveyed Americans do have an investment account. However, most of those accounts (67%) were opened by their employer.
Many people may be intimidated by the stock market, an idea perpetuated by movies and TV shows that depict Wall Street as a place reserved for millionaires and CEOs. In reality, though, an investment portfolio should be a part of every American’s financial plan.
“Unless you are a Kardashian or the founder of a tech startup, very few people will be able to save enough money to have a secure financial future without at least some exposure to investments,” comments David Rae, a Los Angeles-based CFP, in a statement.
Millennials seem to be especially anxious about investing in the stock market, and that can probably be linked back to the overall lower wages they are paid. For example, a recent report from the 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.”
The majority of millennials just aren’t being paid enough, in reference to their daily and monthly living costs, to justify investing in the stock market. Another study that was also commissioned by MagnifyMoney found that the average millennial has about $23,000 saved for the future, a long way off from the $112,000 recommended by many financial experts. Once one stops to consider this drastic disparity between millennial’s expected investment activities and their actual financial realities, all of that stock market anxiety makes much more sense.
Of course, the irony of the situation is that it is actually more important for millennials, even more so than older generations, to get involved with the stock market due to their generally uncertain financial futures and lack of savings.
Deciding to start investing in the stock market can seem like an intimidating endeavor, but experts stress that young investors remember its a long-term game; don’t panic over every little dip in the market. “Sticking to your portfolio, whether times are good or bad, is usually the right choice,” Rae comments. “Buying and selling without a plan is a recipe for crappy investment returns.”
Luckily, most respondents in the survey know that a patient approach to the market is almost always a good idea. If a recession were to hit, 49% of respondents said they would do nothing, 28% said they would take their money out of the market, and 23% said they would make changes to their portfolio.
The survey was conducted by Qualtrics.