Merrill Edge® Report Finds Nearly 9 in 10 Americans Believe How They Manage Their Money Would Make Their Parents Proud | Business Wire

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Bank of America today announced findings from the latest Merrill

Edge® Report, which reveals people are feeling simultaneously

optimistic and overwhelmed by their finances. Merrill is committed to

empowering clients and helping them plan for the future at every age and

in every stage of their financial lives through a combination of tools,

people and know-how across Merrill

Edge Self-Directed, Merrill

Guided Investing. Merrill Lynch

Wealth Management.

The report is a biannual study of more than 1,000 mass affluent1

Americans’ evolving financial concerns and priorities. It found that 85

percent believe how they manage their finances today would make their

parents proud. This may be thanks to savvier spending habits and the

fact that 85 percent of Americans improved their financial lives in

meaningful ways in the last year:

  • Forty-five percent worked at improving their credit score, 43 percent

    worked toward paying off some or all of their credit card debt. 35

    percent established an emergency fund by setting enough aside to live

    on for three months without an income.

  • Far fewer people are paying only the minimum balance on their credit

    card (17 percent), spending more than half of their paycheck on a

    single purchase (14 percent). Dipping into their retirement savings

    (11 percent).

  • For parents, 81 percent would like to leave an inheritance to their

    children. Many (38 percent) are making sacrifices to their

    lifestyle today to do so, including cutting back on dining out and

    entertainment (31 percent) and reducing their travel and vacations (26

    percent). Others are even delaying retirement (18 percent), taking on

    a second job or working longer hours (15 percent) in order to do so.

  • These positive steps may be leading to a higher level of confidence

    about one’s financial future. Gen Zers and millennials – 44 percent

    and 48 percent – believe they’ll be millionaires one day. The

    majority of Americans across generations are confident in their

    ability to retire when they want (80 percent), leave money behind for

    their children (80 percent), pay off student loan debt (77 percent),

    and even buy a second or vacation home (57 percent).

  • Many are also putting their money where their mouth is, with 42

    percent willing to spend more at a retailer whose values align with

    their own. 40 percent would stop buying products from companies

    whose values fundamentally conflict with theirs.

  • And for all this great work, Americans feel they deserve a treat –

    upon reaching a financial goal, 56 percent like to reward themselves,

    including 71 percent of Gen Zers, 66 percent of millennials, 42

    percent of Gen Xers. 43 percent of baby boomers. The most popular

    rewards across all age groups include material purchases such as

    clothing, shoes or jewelry (48 percent). Taking a vacation (48

    percent). Eating at a nice restaurant (40 percent). Indulging in

    spa/beauty treatments (24 percent).

Mind, body. Toll
While Americans are becoming more

conscientious about money and mindful of their spending, many report

that their financial life weighs heavily on their minds, affecting both

their mental (59 percent) and physical (56 percent) health – even more

so among today’s younger generations and women of all ages:

  • Gen Z: mental health – 73 percent, physical health – 69 percent

  • Millennials: mental health – 69 percent, physical health – 66 percent

  • Gen X: mental health – 58 percent, physical health – 54 percent

  • Baby boomers: mental health – 40 percent, physical health – 38 percent

  • Women: mental health – 64 percent, physical health – 60 percent

  • Men: mental health – 52 percent, physical health – 51 percent

The study found that 51 percent are worried about their finances over

the next five years, with top concerns including the potential for an

inadequate amount of savings (55 percent), political instability (53

percent), a looming recession (47 percent). Market volatility (45

percent). Another source of worry – debt (39 percent):

  • Excluding their mortgages, 73 percent of respondents are carrying some

    form of debt. The types of debt respondents are dealing with the most

    include credit cards (43 percent), auto loans (36 percent), student

    loans (20 percent). Personal loans (15 percent).

  • Forty-six percent of respondents with debt owe more than $20,000,

    while 18 percent owe $50,000 or more.

  • In order to pay off debt, 68 percent of respondents are putting

    certain activities and milestones on the back burner, including going

    on vacation (43 percent), buying a car (37 percent), buying a home (30

    percent) and having children (19 percent).

“On the bright side, Americans are prioritizing their financial goals,

and taking steps toward improving their futures,” said Aron Levine,

head of Consumer Banking and Investments for Bank of America. “However,

many find managing their money today causes them a great deal of stress.

The key is to find the right balance of short- and long-term planning,

and always to take steps forward without placing a heavy burden on one’s

current financial situation or well-being.”

Hypothetically, if given the choice to never have to manage their

personal finances again, Americans would rather:

  • Give up all social media platforms forever (41 percent).

  • Cut carbs, sugar and/or alcohol from their life (37 percent).

  • Lose access to their smartphone for a month (35 percent).

  • Run into their ex every time they’re out with their current partner

    (25 percent).

  • Move back in with their parents (25 percent).

Help wanted
Perhaps the need to tackle debt and overcome the

stress from their finances are why 55 percent of respondents are

currently turning to professional financial guidance, either in person

or online. Why two-thirds plan to do so in the future. A growing

number are also embracing new technology and financial apps to help save

and manage their money, including consumer banking apps (71 percent),

money transfer apps (65 percent), personal finance apps (63 percent),

and automated investment apps (57 percent).

You can’t take it with you – they hope
Meanwhile, in the

midst of the largest generational wealth transfer in history, many

Americans (39 percent) expect to inherit or already have inherited all

or part of their family’s estate, including cash (68 percent), personal

property (57 percent), real estate (53 percent). Securities (41

percent). In fact, 58 percent of Americans believe their financial

stability and lifestyle would benefit significantly or only be made

possible by an inheritance from their family.

The good news is 92 percent plan to leave money and other assets behind,

mainly to their children (59 percent), spouse/partner (54 percent),

siblings (17 percent). Nonprofit organizations (17 percent).

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they've a plan in place to do


  • Sixty-four percent of Americans haven't consulted with a financial

    professional about their estate planning, including 46 percent of

    seniors and 59 percent of baby boomers.

  • One in three parents favor an early inheritance and would rather

    transfer wealth to their children now, instead of waiting until they

    are gone.

“Creating a long-term financial plan with reasonable, achievable goals

along the way is important,” said David Poole, Consumer Investments

Solutions and Client Services executive at Bank of America. “This can

help Americans find a balance between living the lifestyle they want

now, while working toward major milestones and leaving a legacy for

their children.”

For more in-depth information about the financial behaviors and

priorities of mass affluent Americans, read the entire spring

2019 Merrill Edge Report. A complementing infographic is available here.

1 Merrill Edge Survey Methodology

Concentrix (an independent market research company) conducted a

nationally representative, panel-sample online survey on behalf of

Merrill Edge April 17-May 9, 2019. The survey consisted of 1,000 mass

affluent respondents throughout the U.S. Respondents in the study were

defined as aged 18 to 23 (Gen Z) with investable assets between $50,000

and $250,000 or those aged 18 to 23 who have investable assets between

$20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000. Aged

24-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. For this

purpose, investable assets consist of the value of all cash, savings,

mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stocks, bonds and all other types of

investments such as a 401(k), 403(B). Roth IRA. Excluding

primary home and other real estate investments. We conducted an

oversampling of 300 mass affluents in Atlanta. The margin of error is

+/- 3.1 percent for the national sample and about +/- 5.6 percent for

the oversample market, reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading

financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and

middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of

banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk

management products and services. The company provides unmatched

convenience in the United States, serving approximately 66 million

consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,400 retail

financial centers, including approximately 1,800 lending centers, 2,200

financial centers with a Consumer Investment Financial Solutions

Advisor. 1,500 business centers. Approximately 16,400 ATMs.

award-winning digital banking with more than 37 million active users,

including over 27 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global

leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and

trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations,

governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of

America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small

business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online

products and services. The company serves clients through operations

across the United States, its territories and approximately 35

countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on

the New York Stock Exchange.

For more Bank of America news, including dividend announcements and

other important information, visit the Bank

of America newsroom. Click here to

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tax. Accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax

advisors before making any financial decisions.

Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A.. Affiliated

banks, Members FDIC and wholly owned subsidiaries of Bank of America


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Susan Atran, Bank of America, 1.646.743.0791
[email protected]

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[email protected]