Schwab Study Finds That Millennials Still Love ETFs

millennial investor researching at computer

When it comes to investing, every generation seems to rewrite the playbook. Today, millennials are making unexpected shifts in the investment world, especially with their growing fondness for Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). According to a recent study by Schwab Asset Management, this generation has been leaning into fixed income ETFs more than their predecessors, which may come as a surprise to many.

Millennial Investors and the Fixed Income Fascination

Interest rates have seen a hike recently, and that has changed the investing landscape considerably. As a result, fixed income investments have risen in popularity as part of a balanced investment portfolio. But here’s the twist: millennials, known for their love for innovation and high-risk, high-reward strategies, are the ones who have taken a particularly strong liking to these conservative investment options.

Schwab’s study points out that millennials have a larger slice of their portfolio pie in fixed income than older generations. In fact, they’ve got as much as 45% of their investments in bonds and other similar assets, compared to just 31% among baby boomers.

ETFs: The Investment Vehicle of Choice

ETFs have become a central part of modern investment strategies, and it seems that millennials have voted them as their investment vehicle of choice. The study reveals that an impressive 80% of respondents prefer ETFs, and this love for ETFs is not just about following trends – it’s about strategic investment.

The Appeal of ETFs

So what makes ETFs so appealing to the younger crowd? Liquidity and diversification top the list. The ability to trade ETFs like stocks, with the diversification benefits similar to mutual funds, offers the best of both worlds. Millennials are drawn to the cost-effective and tax-efficient nature of ETFs, making them a cornerstone of their investment portfolios.

Personalization and Values-Based Investing

One size does not fit all, and millennials know this well. Personalization in investments is something that 9 out of 10 ETF investors are pondering over, according to Schwab’s findings. Millennials, in particular, are eager to align their portfolios with their personal values and interests. Thematic investing, which targets specific market niches like AI, has also become popular.

Direct Indexing: A Growing Trend

The concept of direct indexing is on the rise, too. It allows investors to own the underlying shares of an index, giving them the power to tailor their investment even further. Millennials are leading the charge here as well, with 80% showing interest in putting money into direct indexing funds.

The Long View: Consistent Despite Market Turbulence

Even in the face of market instability, millennial investment behaviors have been surprisingly steady. Rather than trying to time the market, they’re sticking to diversified portfolios. This disciplined approach, despite the lure of rapid gains or the panic of a downturn, demonstrates a maturity in their investment philosophy.

Learning Curve: Millennials Keen on Education

Half of the millennial respondents expressed a desire to learn more about ETFs, indicating a thirst for financial education. With knowledge as a powerful tool, this willingness to learn could steer them towards more informed investment decisions in the future.

Millennials Leading a Shift in Investing Patterns

The traditional trajectory of risk tolerance suggests that younger investors should take on more risk for greater potential returns, given their longer time horizon. However, millennials are crafting a new narrative by balancing risk with significant investments in fixed income.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Investing?

Millennials’ inclination towards ETFs and fixed income signals a shift towards a more cautious approach to investing. This could reshape the market, influencing financial products, services, and advice tailored to these preferences.


The Schwab study has shed light on how millennials are paving a new path in the investing world, with ETFs and fixed income taking center stage. As we watch this generation play a more influential role in the market, it will be interesting to see how their distinct blend of caution, personalization, and innovation will continue to shape the future of investing.



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