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Majority of US Households Delaying Major Life Events Due to Current Financial Situation

by April 20, 2017 General

US Investors Concerned About Rising Healthcare Costs

Generation X Struggling With Mounting Financial Concerns

According to results from the 2017 MFS® Heritage Planning Survey, six in
10 investors have delayed or will delay a major life event due to their
current financial situation. And two-thirds of investors have identified
rising healthcare costs as one of their top concerns over the next three
years. The study, which includes insights from more than 1000 US
investors, was conducted in conjunction with the 20th
Anniversary of MFS’ Heritage Planning program for financial advisors.

“Clearly, the barrage of headlines surrounding the recent US elections
and the Affordable Care Act has left many investors unnerved,” said Jim
Jessee, Co-Head of Global Distribution with MFS.
“And although these
are real concerns, they aren’t insurmountable. Financial advisors can
add a lot of value by talking to their clients about the things that
keep them up at night and helping them get their financial houses in

Approximately half of the investors surveyed identified the US federal
deficit, Social Security benefits and a major drop in the stock market
among their top concerns. Investors aged 52-70, or Boomers, are
particularly concerned about rising healthcare costs with more than
three-quarters indicating they are either very or extremely concerned.
Meanwhile, Millennial (aged 21-36) and Generation X (aged 37-51)
investors are more focused on saving enough for retirement, with more
than two-thirds of respondents in both groups indicating a high level of

‘Sandwich Generation’ is Feeling the Pinch

Generation X investors are relatively pessimistic about their financial
future. Just one-third of Generation X investors are confident in their
ability to address financial concerns and meet their long-term financial
goals – the lowest among all generations surveyed. Generation X is often
referred to as the new ‘sandwich generation’ because many of them are
responsible for both raising their own children and caring for their
parents. According to Doug Orton, MFS Director of Business
Generation X investors often prioritize their immediate
financial expenses over their long-term retirement needs.

“Unfortunately, many Generation X investors are woefully unprepared for
retirement. They simply haven’t saved enough, and unlike many of their
parents, they don’t have pensions or defined benefit plans to fall back
on,” said Orton. “They are desperately looking for guidance.
In fact, 85% of Generation X investors surveyed said they look to their
financial advisor for retirement savings advice and approximately 60%
say they will rely on their advisor more in the coming years.”

Seven in 10 Generation X investors say they have delayed, or expect to
delay at least one major life event, such as buying a house, saving for
their children’s education, starting a new career and ultimately,

“This generation is under a lot of pressure. Wage growth has been
stagnant over the past decade and we’ve had two major market downturns
since the turn of the century,” said Orton. “This means
they’ll likely need to save more in the years ahead if they want to
reach their retirement goals.”

Misplaced Confidence among Millennials

Like Generation X, Millennials are also pushing out significant family
and career milestones. Eight in 10 Millennials have either delayed, or
expect to delay a major life event and nearly a quarter of those
surveyed said they have held off on having children or buying their
first home. Still, Millennials are fairly optimistic about the future.
Seven in 10 believe their financial situation will improve over the next
three years and roughly half of those surveyed are confident in their
ability to meet their long-term financial goals.

“Having grown up in the information age, it’s not surprising that 40% of
Millennials surveyed say they are highly knowledgeable when it comes to
investing,” said Jessee. “However, when you look at their
investment behaviors there is a clear knowledge gap that needs to be

Seven in 10 Millennials surveyed say that growing assets and generating
income are their primary investment objectives. However, according to
the survey, this generation has over a third of its assets allocated to
cash and certificates of deposit – two asset classes that are geared
toward protecting capital. This misallocation is likely the result of
too many investment options. Six in 10 Millennials surveyed say they are
overwhelmed by the number of available investment choices.

“This research reminds us that, across generations, financial guidance
is important and there are real opportunities for advisors to educate
clients and help them achieve their long-term financial goals,” said Jessee.

About the survey

MFS Investment Management reexamined the research behind its Heritage
Planning program by conducting a study among individual investors in the
United States. The sample totaled 1,002 respondents, broken out as
follows: 303 Millennial investors, 266 Generation X investors, 302 Baby
Boomer investors and 131 Silent Generation investors. Gen Y refers to
investors ages 21 to 36. Gen X refers to investors ages of 37-51.
Boomers refers to investors ages of 52-70. The Silent Generation refers
to investors ages 71 to 81. To qualify, individual investors must have
$50K or more in household income, own at least one mutual fund, have at
least 1% of their assets under advisement (i.e., using a financial
advisor), and make or share in the financial decision making for their
household. The survey was conducted from December 14, 2016 to January 9,
2017. MFS was not identified as the sponsor of the survey.

About MFS Investment Management

Established in 1924, MFS is an active, global asset manager with
investment offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, São Paulo,
Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto. We employ a uniquely collaborative
approach to build better insights for our clients. Our investment
approach has three core elements: integrated research, global
collaboration and active risk management. As of March 31, 2017, MFS
manages $440.9 billion in assets on behalf of individual and
institutional investors worldwide. Please visit for more