Almost one-third of Ontario millennials (30%) don’t trust the big banks and investment firms, and more than half (57%) are worried about losing money if they invest, according to a report published Monday from the Investor Office of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

The report finds that more than half (53%) of Ontario millennials (age 18–36) have no investments, and another 42% have less than $25,000 in investments. The primary reasons for avoiding investing is “other financial priorities”, such as paying off debt and focusing on entering the housing market.

“Memories of the financial crisis, during which many millennials graduated from school or started a first job, may be driving these attitudes,” the report says.

Lack of trust in the traditional investment industry doesn’t appear to be replaced by a higher reliance on fintech firms. Although millennials are adopting fintech more readily than Canadians generally, they are well below the global average. Only 14.9% of Canadian millennials use fintechs, according to the report, compared with 22.5% globally.

“Canadians tend to place a high degree of trust in financial technologies that have a long history of operating in Canada, such as online banking, with lower levels of trust for newer services such as online investment advice (often referred to as “robo-advice”) and peer-to-peer lending,” the report says.

Of Ontario millennials that are investing, approximately two-thirds say they are using an advisor, according to the report, while most of the rest say they invest on their own. Of the millennials that say they use an advisor, 13% say they use a robo-advisor (8% of millennial investors overall).

In addition, 51% of respondents say they’ve purchased investments from online discount brokerages, and 39% say they hold investments made through discount brokers currently.

“The top reasons these “do-it-yourself” investors identified for not using an investment professional included the high fees and perceived high account balances required by investment firms, along with high confidence in their personal ability as investors,” the report says.

Yet, the report also finds that investing knowledge and confidence is fairly low among millennials generally. For example, 59% of millennials surveyed who say they don’t invest also say “they don’t understand enough about investing to get started,” the report says.

Although 67% of millennials who don’t currently invest say they will likely start investing in the next five years, “Intentions don’t always lead to action,” the report cautions.

“Like all Ontarians, millennials need to make sure they aren’t missing out on the benefits of planning ahead to save for their retirement. Making a habit of investing, especially early, is important for ensuring they are better prepared financially for the future,” says Tyler Fleming, director OSC Investor Office, in a statement.

In response to the report, the OSC “will be conducting more targeted research on harnessing behavioural insights to encourage more millennials to start investing” in the new year.

The report is based on an online survey of 1,585 millennials conducted in May for the OSC by Innovative Research Group Inc. Since the online survey was not a random probability based sample, a margin of error cannot be calculated.

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