The 2020 Coronavirus recession has had an effect on individuals across the world.

But how have these economic challenges impacted millennials and the way they view investment and retirement?

Although often referred to as the ‘younger generation’, many older millennials have been working for more than 20 years. The widely accepted age definition for millennials covers people born between 1981 and 1996, making the youngest millennials 24 and the oldest 39. Because of the vast age discrepancy, there is likely to be a variation in the accumulated investment wealth within this segment.

In May 2020, during a period when financial markets were staging a recovery after sharp falls earlier in the year, Vanguard surveyed 850 U.S millennials aged between 24-39 who made at least US$50,000 per year. The study aimed to understand their perspective on retirement, investing and financial advice during market volatility.


For millennials the coronavirus recession would have been the first experience of a major correction on equity markets.

When asked to describe their stance on investment at the time of the survey in May, 46% of millennials said they were cautious, and 28% claimed they were fearful or sceptical. In comparison with figures from before the COVID-19 pandemic when millennials were 32% less cautious and were optimistic (29%) and motivated (23%) about investment.

Promisingly, 74% of millennials surveyed said they were still interested in learning more about investment. That included 43% who said they were somewhat interested and 32% who were very interested.

These findings from Vanguard’s U.S research are supported by findings from the ASX Australian Investor Study. The ASX identified that over the next few years the number of young Australian investors will continue to rise, with the average age of intending investors reaching 34. Notably, 27% of those investors will be under the age of 25.

According to the ASX, 41% of the next generation of investors consider building a sustainable income stream as their primary investment goal. Next on the list was maximising capital growth (25%), and achieving a balance between capital growth and investment risk (16%).


Although retirement may seem like a long way off for the millennial generation, the reality is that a high percentage of millennials are already in the process of developing their retirement plans.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average retirement age in Australia is 55.4. 61% of millennials surveyed claimed that they plan to retire before the age of 65, and 22% plan to retire before the age of 60.

When questioned on what millennials considered to be a successful retirement, 63% of survey respondents identified having the freedom to do what they wanted when the want to as the most important determinant.

This is supported by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s “comfortable lifestyle” retirement standard, which considers the ability to enjoy a high standard of living and being able to make regular discretionary purchases. According to the ASFA, an individual retiree would need $43,687 and a couple would require $61,909 a year to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Nearly 70% of U.S millennials surveyed by Vanguard were confident they were putting away enough money to be financially secure in retirement. However, 39% claimed they intended to peruse a new career in retirement, and 35% planned to start a business. Half of the respondents considered staying active and alert to be the top reason for continuing to work post retirement, followed by “I love what I do” (46%) and “to have a sense of purpose” (43%).


When considering investing and retirement, there is a lot of diversity across the millennial generation. Older millennials in their late 30’s, will be actively thinking about retirement and may even be considering retiring within the next 20 years.

Many millennials may already own a home, have a family and will have the benefit of two decades of accumulated investment returns.

Younger millennials in their mid-twenties may only be taking the initial steps in their career, have limited assets and very different investment objectives in comparison to older millennials.

However, there are a number of similarities between older and younger millennials. 75% of U.S survey respondents were interested in learning more about investing, and in Australia approximately 70% of next generation investors want to build a sustainable income and maximise capital growth.

Ultimately, regardless of generation, setting appropriate investment goals that are measurable and achievable, having a diverse asset allocation strategy, controlling investment costs to maximise returns and maintaining perspective and patience irrespective of short term events is important to ensure you achieve success.