Parents' way still works for young investors

Parents' way still works for young investors

When young people start investing, it seems that mum and dad know best after all.

The growth in digital media and social networks suggests that online sources would be paramount for young people looking for financial guidance but not so, according to a recent Bank of America survey.

The poll of investors in the United States aged 18 to 35 with investable assets of at least US$1 million (S$1.25 million) found that 65 per cent of them believed their parents' approach still works today.

Only 27 per cent turned to social media or blogs for investment information while more than half opted for traditional media such as television, national newspapers and magazines.

Financial advisers have noted a similar trend among young investors in Singapore.

Mr Brian Tan, associate director of wealth management for Financial Alliance, said high-net-worth individuals in Singapore are quite likely to adopt a similar investment approach to their parents'.

"Since the young investors inherited their wealth through the success of their parents' business or investments, they are more likely to pick up similar investment values," he said.

"Moreover, they tend to be more intimately connected to the founders and family business which is usually in its second, third or fourth generation."

Adviser M. Salim, chief executive of First Principal Financial, said: "Young Singaporeans are more aware of diversification and seldom throw their eggs into one basket compared with older investors."

He cited insurance policies and unit trusts. Older investors show more product loyalty and stick with a broker or firm they trust while younger investors tend to buy policies and products from several companies to reduce their overall portfolio risk.

As in the US, young investors in Singapore turn to traditional sources of information before making investment decisions.

Mr Tan said: "The credibility of the source is most important for a young investor.

"So it comes as no surprise that they seek out trustworthy sources on the Internet on top of traditional mediums for investment advice. "Those who engage financial advisers will ask a lot of questions instead of the 'trust you completely' mindset."

He noted that young investors saw the ill effects of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the more recent global financial meltdown.

"Because the crises happened within a short span of time, young investors are more conscious of what they invest in and opt for simpler products like bonds and stocks instead of manufactured structured products," he said.

Retail investor Huang Kangrui, 24, turns to investor websites and blogs for advice but he also consults his parents before making a trade that he intends to hold for more than six months.

Mr Huang, a public servant, acknowledged that his investment preference is similar to his parents', who invest in stocks only.

"It is much easier to get information on stocks on the Singapore Exchange, the company's website, analysts' reports, newspapers or even friends," he said.

"That is not the case for structured products, where you have to wait for your financial adviser to provide you with the relevant data." Mr Huang has invested about $10,000 over two years.

"I won't borrow money to buy stocks, so I'll make sure to set aside enough capital and savings before investing," he said.


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