FORT WORTH, Texas – Despite continuing concerns about COVID-19, financial confidence is trending upward in career military families in 2021.
The first quarter results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that 79 percent of career military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) expect their financial situation will improve over the next year. And 50 percent of families report that they feel financially secure month to month. Those are the highest quarterly levels reported during the past year.
These growing levels of confidence come despite continuing concerns brought on by COVID-19. The Index reveals that 64 percent of military families report feeling affected by the pandemic. They have responded by remaining focused on securing and improving their household finances.
Leading the way are career military families who partner with a financial coach. They have amassed almost double the savings and retirement assets of their do-it-yourself colleagues. Families who work with a financial advisor report average savings and retirement holdings of $207,422, about $98,000 more than those without an advisor.
Savings rates are highest among military families who work with a financial coach. They report contributing more to retirement and long-term savings accounts than their do-it-yourself counterparts – $1,665 per month versus $773.
These families also feel better about their long-term financial future. Eighty-one percent report feeling extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably, according to the Index. Only 42 percent of military families without an advisor report experiencing similar confidence levels.
The alignment of positive behaviors and confidence is also true for the near term. Families with an advisor contribute more to short-term savings than those without an advisor – $710 per month versus $415. And 83 percent say they feel their financial situation will improve over the next year. That compares to 44 percent of those who do not work with an advisor.
Military families who work with a financial advisor are more prepared for emergency expenses related to the pandemic. The Index reveals that 62 percent report having three months or more of savings to fall back on to cover household monthly expenses. That compares to 53 percent of military families without an advisor.
“Military families who work with a financial advisor are better prepared for the financial impacts of the pandemic and feeling more confident in their financial future than their do-it-yourself colleagues,” said First Command President/CEO Mark Steffe. “Their positive savings and investing behaviors are helping them enjoy feelings of financial confidence today and pursue retirement and other long-term goals they set for tomorrow.”
Looking ahead, military families who work with an advisor are more likely than their DIY counterparts to say they intend to increase their monthly contributions to savings and investments. This savings intention helped drive the quarterly Financial Behaviors Index score to 185 for those with an advisor versus 122 for those without an advisor.
The Index is set to a benchmark of 100, which was assigned when the Index was launched in 2008.
About the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®
Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. For more details on our research, please email MarketingInbox@firstcommand.com. https://www.firstcommand.com/about-us/making-a-difference/.
About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.
Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.
About First Command
First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Brokerage Services, First Command Advisory Services and First Command Bank, coach our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. Since 1958, First Command Financial Advisors have been shaping positive financial behaviors through face-to-face coaching with hundreds of thousands of client families.