Americans need help maintaining financial confidence.

New York Life | July 26, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic created a wave of unexpected financial fears that affected millions of individuals and families. More than a year later, Americans are emerging from the pandemic with higher confidence. In New York Life’s latest Wealth Watch survey of 2,200 American adults, respondents reported that they are more confident this year than last year in their ability to pay the bills (73%), afford housing (66%), and cover personal financial emergencies (57%). As they resume pre-pandemic activities and expenses, finances are top-of-mind; more than half (54%) of respondents said they are thinking about their finances more now than they were at this time last year.

If the uncertainty of the pandemic demonstrated anything, it’s that every adult at every level of financial confidence can benefit from having a financial strategy in place. A thorough and intentional financial strategy helps protect against uncertainty and promote growth during good times.

Developing a financial strategy that works for your unique needs is difficult to do alone. With professional, empathetic, and human-driven guidance, you can secure a financial future that helps protect you while you prosper.

The State of Financial Confidence Post-Pandemic

Though Americans are thinking often of their finances, many lack confidence in their long-term financial futures. Less than a quarter of adults (22%) report that they have a retirement strategy, and less than half (44%) say they have retirement savings. Nearly half of adults (47%) say they have neither. In general, Americans do not express high levels of confidence that their retirement savings will last the rest of their lives (just 43% feel confident in this outcome).

Interestingly, the data show that Millennials feel more confident than their Gen X and Gen Z counterparts in their long-term financial futures. Millennials report feeling more confident in their savings and retirement preparedness (45% confident vs. 35% and 33%, respectively), more confident that they can retire at their desired age (68% vs. 62% and 66%), more prepared for a financial emergency (31% vs. 18% and 21%), and more confident in their overall financial strategies (67% vs. 64% and 50%).

Incidentally, Millennials are also the demographic most likely to express interest in seeking guidance from a financial professional (61% vs. 38% and 50%). Nearly a third of Millennials (28%) indicated that they would like the help of a financial professional “a lot.”

Is there a correlation between Millennials’ confidence and their interest in engaging a financial professional? While it may seem paradoxical, confidence can in fact be a catalyst in developing a more thorough, more secure, and more personalized financial strategy.

When to Engage a Financial Professional

It is not necessary to wait for a crisis or a time of high anxiety to engage a financial professional. Rather, these experts can provide beneficial guidance in times of financial confidence and optimism; the best don’t just safeguard against trouble; they also help protect nest eggs and develop goal-oriented financial strategies.

For this reason, it’s important to engage someone who takes the time to understand you, your financial philosophy, and your unique goals.

For example: while Millennials are confident in their retirement plans, they are uncertain about their ability to afford a down payment on a house—a goal that is a top priority for nearly a third (32%) of this demographic. Engaging a financial professional could help them achieve this goal.

Having this human guidance helps maintain a synergy between protecting the future and meeting more tangible short-term goals. They find the “how” that gets you to your desired “what.”

Growth-Oriented Protection and Protection-Oriented Growth

It’s important to work with a financial professional who can provide guidance that allows you both to protect yourself and to prosper. “Protecting yourself and your family against a financial loss, while also taking the right steps to grow your wealth and prosper across all phases of life is a constant balancing act,” says Aaron Ball, Senior Vice President, Head of Insurance Solutions, Service, and Marketing at New York Life. “It’s difficult for individuals to navigate that on their own. Guidance from a financial professional helps maintain this equilibrium.”

Protecting yourself and your family against a financial loss, while also taking the right steps to grow your wealth and prosper across all phases of life is a constant balancing act

- Aaron Ball, Senior Vice President

Those considering working with a financial professional should seek individuals and organizations that will prioritize developing personalized relationships with their clients, so they can understand what would constitute success to each individual and family.

“At New York Life, our philosophy is anchored on three pillars,” says Ball. “First, we address the basics, like tackling debt, building emergency funds and helping clients protect what they earn and those they love. Second, we adopt an outcome-based approach to help each client achieve personal financial goals like buying their first home, sending their children to college, or starting a business. Third, we help our clients accumulate assets for retirement, decumulate those assets to create retirement income and ultimately leave a legacy to the people or institutions they love.”

Surviving and Thriving Post-Pandemic

Though finances are top-of-mind post-pandemic, many report glimmers of optimism. A vast majority of people are confident in their abilities to afford pet care (94%) and attend summer weddings (93%) and more than four-in-ten (44%) plan to go out more this summer.

With the pandemic creeping ever-closer to the rear-view, it’s important to consider not just how to survive, but how to thrive.


Wealth Watch is a new recurring survey from New York Life that will track Americans’ financial goals, progress toward those goals and feelings about their ability to secure their financial futures, identifying key themes and trends that are emerging about topics like retirement planning, the role of protection-oriented solutions and the importance of financial guidance.


This poll was conducted between June 16 and June 20, 2021 among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.




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Media contact

Sara Sefcovic
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-4499