The Financial Realities Study
This is proprietary research conducted by Northwestern Mutual in 2010. Use of this information is intended for reference. Northwestern Mutual's recent proprietary research is available here.
Northwestern Mutual sponsored The Financial Realities Study, which is made up of two parts: “Changing Timeframes” and “Generational Advice.” (Conducted 2010)
The purpose of the “Changing Timeframes” research is to explore how Americans are responding to the current economic landscape and to consider how attitudes and priorities may be changing regarding the way people approach their finances.
The “Generational Advice” research aims to provide insight into Americans’ propensity to give advice against the backdrop of economic uncertainty and looks at how advice compares across multiple generations.
According to the study, some of the most resounding financial realities of today include the following:
- A majority of Americans have embraced highly conservative attitudes toward money.
- The majority of Americans are widening their time horizons. Among people with financial goals, 75 percent say the financial crisis has impacted the timeframe within which they had originally planned to meet those goals.
- Young people are saving more. Interestingly, saving is generally more popular among 25-34-year-olds than it is with people 55 and up, with 40 percent of the younger demographic at the high end of the anticipated savings scale, compared with 23 percent of those older.
- Women are more conservative than men. While both genders favor stable, lower-risk products, women do so in larger numbers: “Safe, steady and secure” (82% women vs. 67% men); “Guarantees” (71% women vs. 63% men); “Lower risk” (72% women vs. 56% men).
Highlights from the study include the following:
- Three out of four Americans feel a responsibility to pass along financial advice to others; and half reported actually having done so.
- Men feel less of an obligation to give advice than women.
- Financial advice was the most common type of advice provided from one generation to another.
Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers all reported that the single best financial decision they have ever made was to “start saving early.”
- Matures reported a tie for the best financial decision they have ever made between “I started saving early” and “I bought products with guarantees, like insurance and annuities.”