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Financial Preferences and Attributes of Middle-Income Investors

Middle-income consumers have distinct needs when it comes to personal investment opportunities. By understanding the financial preferences of middle income consumers, credit unions will be adequately equipped to better serve members interested in wealth management services and products.

Executive Summary 

The American middle class has a profound market influence and encompasses a diverse spectrum of individuals across a wide household income range. Members of these households generally range from “getting by” to living comfortably. More importantly, they are characterized by their aspirational lifestyles and seek home ownership, family stability, and often retirement security. 

In this report, “middle-income” means households earning between $30,000 and $100,000 per year. Checking, savings, and loan products are always top priorities for these consumers. However, middle-income consumers are also primed for long-term investment relationships. As they start to grow their wealth, they’re more open to advice to help them invest. 

This group faces a meaningful wealth management challenge. Among all groups with household income higher than $50,000, better products, rates, and fees are principal reasons for moving assets between institutions, but for those with less than $100,000 in income, service and confidence in the institution are more important drivers of loyalty and use than for higher earners.

As service and “security” leaders focused on the wealth management needs of middle-income Americans, credit unions are positioned to gain the confidence and patronage of more members. Filene conducted this wealth management study to better understand the preferences and attributes of middle-income investors. Drawing on more than 1,000 respondents, the research sketches the boundaries around middle-income investors, the drivers behind their wealth management decisions, and what types of financial advisors appeal to them.


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