Diversity Friends Friendship Team Community Concept

There are a lot of misconceptions about millennials, namely that they’re an avocado toast-eating, social media-obsessed generation. However, a new report suggests that as they get married, build careers and amass wealth, millennials are seeking financial professionals over robo advisors.

According to a Natixis Investment Managers’ global study, 40% of millennials are turning to advisors for help with financial decision-making, while only 7% are relying on automated advice like robo-advisors and algorithms.

Further, nine in 10 millennials said they trust their advisor for reliable information, while less than one-quarter trust social media.

In North America, far more millennials have advisors: 72%, which is a higher proportion than gen x (66%) and boomers (70%), the study said.

“The turn to personal advice may be related to where millennials are in life. Many are getting married later in life and half of those surveyed have multiple sources of income,” the report stated.

The North American cohort is most interested in financial planning, Natixis found, and many are diligent savers with plans to retire early.

Globally, millennials think about risk differently from advisors. For instance, 14% of millennials think about risk in terms of “underperforming the market,” whereas 7% of advisors think the same. Further, 11% of millennials think of risk in terms of “not meeting my goals,” whereas 24% of advisors feel that way.

Like advisors, millennials listed their top risks as exposure to volatility (24%) and losing wealth (22%).

“Millennials have come to investing when passive investments like index funds became top sellers based on the proposition of delivering market returns at a lower fee,” the report said.

After a decade of booming markets, millennials said they expect returns of 16.3% above inflation.

“Given that, they may find themselves overexposed to portfolio risk — and get caught by surprise when markets get rocky,” it said.

Millennials are also interested in ESG investing, but 41% noted they need more information before they commit.

Overall, 78% consider investing a way to make an impact, and 63% believe they have a responsibility to use their investments to help fix societal issues. Further, 36% said they ask their advisors to screen out companies they don’t want to invest in because it conflicts with their personal values.

As the oldest millennials enter middle age, retirement is a greater priority. More than three in four said they’re responsible for funding their own retirement, while almost half believe they’ll never have enough money to retire.

That was even true among the wealthiest millennials who have more than $2 million in assets: 48% of this high-net-worth cohort said “it’ll take a miracle” to retire securely.

Natixis surveyed 8,550 investors with at least US$100,000 in investable assets across 24 countries from March to April 2021; 2,459 respondents were millennials and 275 were millennials in North America. CoreData Research hosted the online quantitative survey.