Summary of Lisa Greenwald's Presentation "Preparing for Their Future: A Look at the Financial State of Gen X and Gen Y"

The last speaker of the symposium was Lisa Greenwald, Senior Research Associate at Mathew Greenwald & Associates, who shared highlights of her firm’s extensive research as part of AARP’s “Divided We Fail” campaign. Her research supported many of the assertions made by previous experts, showing that young adults are optimistic even though less than half feel they are financially secure—they identified debt, lack of confidence in future social security, and overall feeling of “being behind” in education, career, housing and savings. However, this group defines financial security modestly, with many just wanting to live beyond each paycheck and have enough saved for emergencies.

Financial education for Generations X and Y is often informal and inconsistent, but they are realistic about retirement and their savings options. As mentioned by other presenters, this group still listens to their parents when it comes to financial planning, yet only about half feel they know enough to make important decisions about investment, retirement, and other key financial tasks. The research shows that young adults do think about retirement, and think they will rely on 401(k) plans and personal savings for retirement income. Of those who have the option, nearly seventy percent of young people contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. While there is a lack of loyalty towards employers and perception that employers are not loyal to them, employer-sponsored plans are a critical component for this generation’s financial future.

Ms. Greenwald's presentation materials are available here.