From record-breaking stock market returns to falling unemployment, the U.S. has no shortage of positive economic indicators, and the majority of investors say they feel confident about achieving their short- and long-term goals, according to a recent survey of 1,200 investors age 25 to 75 with over $100,000 in assets. [i]  About one in four U.S. households fall into this category. While the poll highlights that most investors hold an optimistic outlook—worries about their financial futures remain.

Young professionals, including young physicians, realize the importance of achieving solid long-term goals that include Paying off debts, Saving for retirement, Paying for a child’s education, and Transferring their wealth to the next generation. While 93% of respondents of the above are confident they'll achieve their short-term goals, they aren't entirely carefree. More than two-thirds (67%) fear running out of money in their life-time, and 56% are uneasy about being able to maintain their standard of living. Having enough money to manage retirement and unexpected medical costs are key concerns shared by more than half of investors, and two-thirds are concerned about how the political climate will affect their finances. Even Millennials polled say they are worried about retirement.

What can explain this apparent paradox between investor optimism and concern? In a nutshell: a lack of planning. Many investors admit they need help with finances, but fail to seek it. Many apply a do-it-yourself approach (27%) or have no plan at all (36%). Only one in three investors has a professionally prepared financial plan that includes budgeting, expenditures, and investments. Of investors who do obtain a professionally prepared, goal-driven plan, 80% credit their financial advisors with their financial success.
Investors who reported being happiest overall are less troubled by financial worries than their peers. What’s common amongst them is that they practice healthy financial habits that include having a financial plan in place, meeting short-term and long-term goals, and discussing finances with their significant other. Working with a trusted professional familiar with the individual’s financial situation builds confidence in good times and bad. When those plans are combined with good financial habits, investors can move safely toward their short and long-term goals.
Christopher L. Heller, CFP®, CFA®

Author’s Biography: Mr. Heller is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and a financial advisor with Graystone Consulting, an affiliate of Morgan Stanley. Web Address:
[i]  Morgan Stanley Investor Pulse Poll, march 2018