Mass affluent investors are beginning to regain confidence following the economic downturn, according to the Spring 2013 Merrill Edge Report.

Those investors, which have between $50,000 and $250,000 in investable assets, are implementing lessons learned, according to a study of the financial concerns and priorities of the mass affluent released by Bank of America, Merrill’s parent. Consequently, the mass affluent are cutting debt in favor of long-term investments.

Among mass affluent investors, those in Gen Y (ages 18-34) have been especially adept in learning from the recession’s impact, so they’re saving early and aggressively for retirement. These young investors have saved an average of $55,000 for retirement, the Merrill Edge Report revealed; Gen Y’s mass affluent started saving at the age of 22, thirteen years before the average Baby Boomer started saving at the age of 35 (which is older than the oldest Gen Y investors).

“Many mass affluent, particularly young investors, are focusing on their retirement goals by saving earlier and planning now for the lifestyle they want to live during their retirement years,” Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge, said in a statement. “As markets continue to improve and the mass affluent invest optimistically for the future, they will seek tools and guidance that help them best pursue their long-term retirement goals.”

The Merrill Edge Report asserted that Gen Y investors prefer to utilize technology to manage their finances. Over half (54%) of the Gen Y mass affluent responding to the study said they value online tools, including budget calculators, to help them stay on track, compared to just 28% of mass affluent respondents ages 51-64. Additionally, 55% of Gen Y valued the ability to manage their banking and investing accounts in one place.

“Young investors have grown to depend on technology as a way to communicate, entertain and now manage their financial lives,” Prasad stated. “Through the availability of online tools and the ability to view and access their banking and investing accounts in one place online, Merrill Edge is addressing the needs of the next generation of investors through its convenient, easy-to-use platform while providing consumers access to capabilities from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.”

Merrill’s report also found that Gen Y will be less reliant on government during retirement. About half (49%) of Gen Y respondents expected to rely on the public sector to partially fund their retirement, compared to those much closer to retirement (ages 51-64) who were relying much more heavily on public sector programs, at 68%.

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