20-Somethings Shun Stocks, Survey Says

REDMOND, Wash. (TheStreet) -- Among the estimated 80 million people who make up the so-called millennial generation, only half plan to put their money in stocks, savings accounts or 401(k) plans, according to a survey released by Microsoft (MSFT) (Stock Quote: MSFT).

(MSFT) The survey, conducted by Washington-based KRC Research in August, found that people born between 1981 and 2000 have developed a cynical view of banks and investment firms after the near-collapse of companies such as American International Group (AIG) (Stock Quote: AIG) and Citigroup (C ) (Stock Quote: C).

Of those surveyed, 67% said they're wary of stocks because of the weak economy, and 82% are concerned that more financial institutions will fail. Fifty-one percent said they're unlikely to put money in 401(k) plans or other retirement accounts.

(MSFT) (AIG) (C ) Many of the survey participants said the finance industry was out of touch with the needs of young customers. Based on the findings, millennials prefer to conduct their banking through personalized Web portals and smart-phone applications. They also favor new methods of business communication, such as online chats.

"We've done a fair amount of research about the millennial generation," says Bill Hartnett, director of U.S. insurance solutions for Microsoft. "But none of it has really drilled down into the financial markets specifically and their attitudes about finance."

(MSFT) (AIG) (C ) Mistrust seems to be the prevailing mood.

(MSFT) (AIG) (C ) "This is a generation that grew up seeing Enron," Hartnett says. "Their parents had to work their entire careers at a given company, but still saw their pensions just go up in smoke."

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