Though a new survey indicates that young people are desperately seeking investment advice, many bankers are apparently not interested in targeting this segment of the market.
The survey by Kemper Financial Services and Roper-Starch Worldwide, a marketing firm, polled 2,086 Americans of all ages about their attitudes regarding retirement.
It found that people in their 20s are more sophisticated about retirement planning than is commonly believed, but still want investment advice.
Geoffrey Bobroff, a consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., says the banking industry has not shown a commitment to helping investors in their 20s, even though that market is untapped and has potential for a bank to capture assets for the long term.
"The younger generation is where banks should spend most of their energies, but they are not," Mr. Bobroff said.
He maintains that banks are ignoring the young because their investment levels aren't large enough to yield quick profits. "Banks have been resistant to cultivate a $5,000 account because you need a lot of those to make money," Mr. Bobroff said.
Bankers acknowledge that they are more focused on retirees than young investors.
The brokerage unit of Huntington Bancshares is targeting its marketing efforts via mail to retirees because "that's the primary customer base of the bank," said the unit's president, Richard "Skip" Blythe. Still, he said, younger investors are in the company's marketing plan.
The survey found that 69% of people in their 20s wanted help choosing investments to fund their retirement. At the same time, 74% of this group acknowledged they were not saving enough.
The survey also found that 44% of this group was even parking some of its retirement money in the bank through savings accounts, 4 percentage points higher than those that said they had retirement money in mutual funds.
Across the generational spectrum, the survey found that most working Americans fear they will have to work even during their retirement years.
"Despite a dearth of information available on retirement planning, Americans are still clamoring for help," said William E. Chapman 2d, executive vice president of Kemper, a Chicago-based mutual fund company.
Baby boomers, those between the ages of 30 and 49, have similar retirement strategies to their younger counterparts. Forty-three percent said they had money in savings accounts, while 39% said they had money in mutual funds.
The survey showed that 401(k) plans are most popular investment for retirement among the those in their 20s. A full 58% of respondents had money in these work-related plans. For baby boomers, 401(k) plans are also the most popular retirement investment.
For those between the ages 50 and 65, bank savings accounts were the most popular retirement investment.
"The old yardsticks by which current retirees measure their success in funding a comfortable retirement no longer apply to younger Americans," Mr. Chapman said.
"Younger Americans will try to fill the gap left by what they expect to be limited social security benefits, diminished health-care support and the lack of their own savings with wages earned during retirement," Mr. Chapman said.
Baby boomers also said they didn't think they were saving enough. About 65% said they could do more to fund their retirement.