Harry Peterson
All posts from Harry Peterson
Harry Peterson in Investing & more!,

Here’s the real reason why people don’t invest enough in stocks

The best explanation is usually the simplest one. But Wall Street and the financial-services industry never got the memo. They always seem to concoct the most complex “solutions” and unwieldy theories of why things happen when the simple truth is right in front of their noses.

Take saving and investing for retirement. For decades, financial advisers and so-called “thought leaders” have wrung their hands and wagged their fingers over Americans’ inability to put away enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle during retirement. (The median account balance of people who are saving for retirement is less than $60,000, according to the Federal Reserve. But 45% of working households have no retirement savings whatsoever.)

They have blamed it on people’s ignorance, laziness, or profligacy. They supported the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which allowed employersautomatically to enroll workers in 401k retirement plans and put their money into diversified target retirement plans (including stock investments) as a default option.

And yet, Bankrate’s Money Pulse survey, released last week, showed those efforts — and the many articles written by those of us in the financial media — have largely come to naught.

More than half of the 1,001 Americans polled for Bankrate by Princeton Survey Research Associates International don’t own stock at all. That means they’ve missed not only the current bull market but also any chance for long-term market gains, which are key to future retirement security.

And a stunning three out of four millennials, who presumably could afford taking more risk, because they have more time to recover from losses, have no skin in the stock market game.

What’s keeping Americans out of the market? Follow the money.

Why not? Well, one in five Americans who aren’t invested plead ignorance — they “don’t know enough” about markets. Nearly one in 10 don’t trust the people who would supposedly enlighten them — stock brokers and financial advisers. Another 7% think stocks are too risky, a small number given the two major market crashes that hit investors within a decade.

But the biggest reason people haven’t invested in stocks?

Some 53% of those who don’t own stocks say it’s because they can’t afford to.

This is the big truth staring the financial services industry in the face. All their sales pitches are falling on the deaf ears of a public that’s just getting by.