Why aren't more Ontario millennials investing?

Around half of young Ontarians may be playing it too safe when it comes to their finances

Why aren't more Ontario millennials investing?
Whether it’s through savings or investment, getting an early start on one’s nest egg is usually the best approach. However, a new study suggests that young Ontarians aren’t making the most of the financial opportunities they have.

According to a new report by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) titled Missing Out: Millennials and the Markets, 80% of Ontarians age 18 to 36 are saving their money. Among these savers, 73% set aside money every month or with each pay cheque.

However, 53% of millennial Ontarians have no investments, and 42% of those with investments have under $25,000 invested. Those who were not investing cited several reasons, including:
  • Having other financial priorities (68%)
  • Feeling they don’t have enough income (66%)
  • Feeling they don’t have enough savings (66%)
  • Prioritizing debt (53%)
  • Prioritizing home ownership (33% own a home, while 56% of non-homeowners say it’s among their top three priorities)
  • Not knowing enough about investing (59%)
  • Worrying about losing money in the markets (57%)
  • Not trusting big banks or investment firms (30%)
Debt has been reported to weigh heavily on Canadian millennials, especially among those with homes. According to the OSC, many households are becoming more sensitive to changes in life and work circumstances, as well as hikes in interest rates, because of rising debt levels. In addition, 81% millennial homeowners have plans to eventually sell their homes, with 63% of such homeowners saying that mortgage and housing costs are leaving them cash-poor.

The OSC report also noted that Canadian millennials seem to be taking a conservative approach to their finances. It cited other research suggesting that millennials are second only to Canadians over 67 in terms of the proportions of cash in their portfolios; more than half of them would accept lower returns for less volatility; and are less likely than other generations to add to investments as their savings accumulate.

Millennial investors in Ontario also seem to prefer working with human advisors. Among those surveyed by the OSC, 67% said they consult at least one investment professional, while 31% said they invest on their own. High fees and perceived high account balance requirements, as well as confidence in their own investing ability, were the top reasons cited by “do it yourself” investors for not working with investment firms.

Online discount brokerages were reported to be fairly popular. Among the millennial Ontarian investors surveyed, 51% said they’ve purchased investments using such a platform, while 39% said they currently have such investments.

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