Generations Y and Z don't trust the stock market. Here's what they're doing instead.
Much has been written about the financial habits of the so-called 'millennial' generation--and, to a lesser-but-rapidly-growing degree, their successors, Gen Z. Studies contradict one another regarding whether Y and Z generations are fiscally responsible or irresponsible, prone to spending or saving, and so on, ad nauseum.
Even if they can't agree, everyone concurs that things have changed for the young'uns. Legacy financial institutions are scrambling to stay relevant--and largely falling behind. "When you're 22 years old like me," says Clint Groves of Midvale, UT, "traditional investment opportunities feel like a dated and old-fashioned hustle stacked against you."
THE STOCK MARKET CAN'T BE TRUSTED
The Great Recession smacked the economy down hard in the late aughts, right as the millennial vanguard was only a few years into the workforce. Younger millennials faced a tough job market from the moment they entered. Gen Z saw the fallout from the sidelines and registered that something had failed within The System.
Fiscal irresponsibility precipitated the recession. Irresponsibility on the part of many individual Americans? Sure, but also on the part of our largest financial institutions. The younger generations internalized that bankers can wreck millions of lives and get a slap on the wrist (if even that), while petty criminals can face serious jail time for an offense that doesn't much harm anyone.
Maybe the system had always been rigged, but the subprime economic fallout shredded whatever garments of respectability the financial sector had heretofore concealed itself with.
Even after taxpayers shored up Big Finance, the hanky-panky kept coming. Equifax was breached, exposing roughly half of Americans to the possibility of identity theft and other privacy-related troubles. Wells Fargo got caught with its hand in the cookie jar (the cookies, of which it took some 3 million, being 'fake' or non-requested accounts and services created on behalf of customers without their knowledge or consent). And so forth.
In light of the above, it's no great surprise that millennials overwhelmingly don't trust financial institutions. Especially when it comes to making investment decisions. "Why should I give my money to the very companies that wrecked our economy?" Salt Lake City native Paul, who prefers to remain anonymous, asks me. "I'd rather put it in my mattress."