Time is the one asset possessed by young professionals that cannot be duplicated by experience, wealth or business relationships. Money management professionals, such as those at J.P. Morgan Chase, universally agree that the earlier in a career a person starts saving for retirement, the far better off they will be.

And millennials, loosely defined as people born between 1982 and 2000, have challenges that no generation that has come before has faced. In general, millennials have longer life expectancies, higher student debt, below-trend wage growth and a federal government with a serious entitlement program spending problem. When these factors are combined with the declining availability of defined benefit pension plans, younger people will largely be funding their retirements themselves.

This could all be pointing to a gloom-and-doom scenario, but again, younger people have the all-important asset of time on their side, which makes informed financial foresight all the more critical now.

Late last year, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Asset Management division released “The Millennials: Now streaming: The millennial journey from saving to retirement,” which was a research project presented in the format of a fictitious script proposal for a web-based show which follows a cast of millennials with different income levels through typical lifetime money challenges, some completely within their control and some absolutely out of their control.

“The way we present these findings is designed to help millennials, as well as their financial advisors, employers and parents, gain a greater understanding of the drivers of financial security in today’s rapidly changing world that millennials will inherit,” said Katherine Roy, chief retirement strategist with J.P. Morgan Chase’s Asset Management division and paper co-author.

The authors come to the conclusion that while millennials face challenges unique to them, “The financial tools needed to deal with these challenges are within reach, provided that millennials use them early enough.”

Here are four quick conclusions from the research to help millennials adequately prepare for the future:

  • Median-income millennials should plan to put 4%-9% of pre-tax income into retirement accounts each year, starting at age 25. For affluent millennials, the range would be 9%-14%, and for high, net-worth millennials, 14%-18%.
  • The rest of the savings plan uses additional savings from after-tax income, employer-matching contributions and consistent investment discipline.
  • One possible consequence of inadequate saving in advance of adverse events: sharp declines in “income replacement ratios,” which measure the amount of money millennials will be able to spend in retirement.
  • It may be hard for millennials to “invest their way out” of adverse events. Example: single individuals retiring three years earlier than planned may accumulate lower savings before retirement, draw on savings sooner, and accelerate Social Security at a discount. To fill the gap, they would need to earn real-equity returns over their lifetimes that are close to the highest levels seen since 1935.

-Written by Josh Coddington, marketing and communications manager, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. This article is part of the Chamber’s Valley Young Professionals newsletter.

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