Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Vanguard research explores Australian attitudes to investing

  • Report breaks down gender and generational approach to investing
    • Gen Z most driven by performance - 42% check their investments daily
    • Millennials most avid buyers of cryptocurrency – 20% own a digital currency
    • Gen X most financially organised – 55% have a written financial plan
  • Men 51% more likely than women to have investments
  • Seven-in-10 Australians polled don’t have a financial plan
  • ETFs almost on par with Australian shares as the top investment choice

Vanguard Australia has released a report on Australian attitudes and approaches to investing, showing that while half think about their financial future and lifestyle almost daily, some 70% don’t have a financial plan. Its findings explore Australians’ financial education, investments approach and future outlook.

Two-in-three Australians polled have made an investment, with males 53% more likely than females to have invested.[1] Gen X had the highest engagement –77% of the cohort had made an investment at some stage – followed closely by Millennials (69%) and Gen Z (49%).

Reflecting the well documented rise in investing activity during the pandemic, particularly amongst individual investors, one quarter (25%) of all respondents made their first investment in 2020 and another quarter (22%) in 2021. The report showed 82% of Gen Zs and 49% of Millennials responding to the survey made their first investment during this period[2]

The steep growth in popularity of exchange traded funds (ETFs) was also evident in the results with a quarter of those surveyed saying they held them as an investment, only slightly behind Australian direct shares. Overall, the top five investments cited were domestic shares (47%), ETFs (42%), property (29%), managed funds (28%) and term deposits (27%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly younger generations were more likely to invest in cryptocurrencies. Millennial (20%) and Gen Z (15%) respondents were more likely than their Gen X (10%) counterparts to hold digital currencies.[3]

Barriers to investing

The survey also highlighted that in addition to the anticipated barrier of lack of investible income, a lack of knowledge and confidence holds people back from investing. Top barriers to investment included insufficient funds (50%), lack of understanding (21%) and worry of making a bad investment (20%). Interestingly, more men (10%) than women (6%) cited an overall lack of personal interest in investing as a barrier.

The report also highlighted many are misinformed about the amount of funds they need to begin investing in their futures. While seven-in-10 believed they needed more than $1,000 to start investing, 35% believed they needed more than $10,000.[4]

Vanguard’s Head of Personal Investor, Balaji Gopal said “The survey highlights that many people hesitate to get started investing because of the misconception that you need a substantial amount of money.

‘However, investing beyond bluechip shares and property, which historically has been the mainstay for Australians investors outside of super, has become far more accessible in recent years. Retail investment platforms, such as Vanguard’s Personal Investor, now provides affordable access to funds and ETFs that place powerful asset allocation approaches that used to be the domain of professional investors due to high investment minimums, well within reach of everyday Australians,” said Mr. Gopal.

Reflecting on the prevalence of crypocurrency investing in the results, Mr Gopal said “We do urge caution against speculating in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are largely unregulated and accompanied by a number of considerable risks including the potential loss of investment entirely in some instances.”

Investing behaviours and planning for the future

When surveyed on investment strategies, pleasingly respondents largely displayed positive investing behaviour through investing regularly, buying more than they sell, and tending to invest regularly and for the long term. Some 44% invest on a weekly or monthly basis, while only 25% sold in the same period. One-in-three who invest said they plan to hold for the long-term, however women were 34% more likely than men to hold long term.[5]

The survey also investigated financial planning and optimism for the future. The data showed seven-in-10 Australians haven’t formally planned for their future. For those who did, men (36%) were more likely than women (21%) to have a written plan.

Of those with a written financial plan, men (72%) were again more likely than women (60%) to engage the help of a financial adviser when making investment decisions.

“It’s Vanguard’s long held view that planning, discipline, keeping costs low and maintaining a long term perspective are the key things that give investors their best chance for success, said Mr Gopal.

“While it’s encouraging that this survey highlights how engaged Australians are in investing, and displaying some sensible investing behaviours, it’s troubling that so many seem to be doing so without first considering a financial plan or some view of a goals they are seeking to achieve. Without a plan it’s all too easy to get  seduced by the daily hype or rattled by short term market bumps.”

Looking at where people seek investing information, Gen Z (47%) and Millennials (36%) sought the opinion of friends and families the most, while Gen X looked to the media (21%), and social influencers (11%) for information.

Despite the lack of planning, half (48%) of respondents think about their financial future and future lifestyle almost daily. Just under a third (21%) said they were investing to enable them to travel, while 25% were investing to purchase property.

25 years of Vanguard Australia, 1 year of Vanguard Personal Investor

2021 marks 25 years of Vanguard serving investors and their advisers in Australia and one year since launching Vanguard Personal Investor – a new investor platform providing direct access to Vanguard's extensive range of managed funds and ETFs. The platform caters to a broad range of investors, from those starting out who can take advantage of a low minimum entry point of $500, to the more established and experienced SMSF investors.

“We have learned a lot about our investors needs and preferences in the last 12 months since we launched Personal Investor. We are continually refining our offer to meet those needs with smart solutions and additional functionality. We have also added additional account access and are excited about further developments due to launch later this year.

“Reflective of this new consumer research, we are also seeing some good early signs that Vanguard Personal Investors are smart investors, just like the thousands of individual investors we have served in Australia for decades, and the tens of millions of investors worldwide. Tuned in to costs, diversifying and saving regularly, and challenging Vanguard to continue to innovate and improve on their behalf,” said Mr Gopal.


[1] Three-quarters (74%) of males have made a financial investment versus just under half of females (49%).

[2] 2020–2021.

[3] State breakdown of digital currencies investments: NT (37%), WA (20%), SA (19%), QLD (14%), VIC (12%), NSW (11%), TAS (10%), ACT (<1%)

[4] 71% of respondents believed they needed $1000 or more to start investing. Of these, 35% of respondents felt they needed $10,000.

[5] 39% of women and 29% of men plan to hold their investments for a long-term period of time (3-10 years).

About the research


  • 1,024 respondents – all aged over 18 years
  • Gender breakdown
    • 54% male and 46% female
  • Age and geographical breakdown
    • Age – 26% Gen Z, 40% Millennials, 15% Gen X, 13% Baby Boomers, and 6% Silent Generation
      • Note this report skews heavier to a younger audience, as the purpose of this report is to gain insight on younger demographics.
    • Location – 31% NSW, 25% VIC, 21% QLD, 10% WA, 8% SA, 2% TAS, 1% ACT and <1% NT
  • Research conducted during March 2021

Additional findings: Male v. female breakdown

  • Financial advice – Women (43%) are more likely to base their investment decisions on the advice of family and friends over that of financial advisers, than men (33%)
  • Written financial plan – Men (36%) are more likely than women (21%) to have a formal financial plan
  • Engage a financial adviser – Men (72%) are more likely than women (60%) to engage a financial adviser
  • Planning financial decisions – Men make financial decisions on a long (30%) or medium (30%) term basis whereas women make financial decisions on a monthly (38%) or medium (30%) term basis
  • Barriers to investing for both men and women:
    • Insufficient funds (50%)
    • Lack of information or knowledge (21%)
    • Worried about losing money (19%)

Additional findings: Generational breakdown

  • Planning financial decisions
    • Gen Z primarily make financial decisions on a medium-term basis (44%)
    • Millennials primarily make financial decisions on a medium-term basis (29%)
    • Gen X and Baby Boomers primarily make financial decisions on a long-term basis (38% Gen Z; 50% Baby Boomer)
  • Barriers to investing: Insufficient funds to make the initial investment
    • Gen Z (38%)
    • Millennials (31%)
    • Gen X (26%)
    • Baby Boomers (26%)
  • Barriers to investing: Lack of information or knowledge
    • Gen Z (27%)
    • Millennials (21%)
    • Gen X (32%)
    • Baby Boomers (1%)
  • Insufficient funds after paying day-to-day expenses
    • Gen Z (18%)
    • Millennials (20%)
    • Gen X (16%)
    • Baby Boomers (19%)
  • Worry about losing money or making a bad investment
    • Gen Z (15%)
    • Millennials (17%)
    • Gen X (15%)
    • Baby Boomers (41%)

 Additional findings: Milestones saving or investing for

  • Domestic or international trip (22%)
  • Purchase of an investment property (13%)
  • Purchase of a first property (12%)

 Additional findings: Geographical breakdown

  • State-based breakdown of those who don’t have a financial plan
    • NT (80%), TAS (78%), QLD (77%), WA (77%), VIC (71%), SA (71%), NSW (64%), ACT (46%) 

 Additional findings: Optimism on financial future

  • State-based breakdown of those most optimistic about their financial future
    • ACT (46%), NT (40%), NSW (35%), WA (33%), VIC (31%), QLD (29%), SA (28%), TAS (26%)

Generation Breakdown

  • Silent Generation: 1945 and under (75 plus)
  • Baby Boomers: 1946 –1964 (75-57 years old)
  • Gen X: 1965 – 1980 (56-41)
  • Millennials: 1981 – 1996 (40-25)
  • Gen Z: 1997 – 2009 (24-12)
  • Gen Alpha: 2010 – now (11 and under)


Download the summary of survey results here



Leave a Comment:


Most viewed in recent weeks

10 little-known pension traps prove the value of advice

Most people entering retirement do not see a financial adviser, mainly due to cost. It's a major problem because there are small mistakes a retiree can make which are expensive and avoidable if a few tips were known.

Check eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card has no asset test and a relatively high income test. It's worth checking eligibility and the benefits of qualifying to save on the cost of medications.

Hamish Douglass on why the movie hasn’t ended yet

The focus is on Magellan for its investment performance and departure of the CEO, but Douglass says the pandemic, inflation, rising rates and Middle East tensions have not played out. Vindication is always long term.

Start the year right with the 2022 Retiree Checklist

This is our annual checklist of what retirees need to be aware of in 2022. It is a long list of 25 items and not everything will apply to your situation. Run your eye over the benefits and entitlements.

At 98-years-old, Charlie Munger still delivers the one-liners

The Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger partnership is the stuff of legends, but even Charlie admits it is coming to an end ("I'm nearly dead"). He is one of the few people in investing prepared to say what he thinks.

Should I pay off the mortgage or top up my superannuation?

Depending on personal circumstances, it may be time to rethink the bias to paying down housing debt over wealth accumulation in super. Do the sums and ask these four questions to plan for your future.

Latest Updates

Investment strategies

Three ways index investing masks extra risk

There are thousands of different indexes, and they are not all diversified and broadly-based. Watch for concentration risk in sectors and companies, and know the underlying assets in case liquidity is needed.

Investment strategies

Will 2022 be the year for quality companies?

It is easy to feel like an investing genius over the last 10 years, with most asset classes making wonderful gains. But if there's a setback, companies like Reece, ARB, Cochlear, REA Group and CSL will recover best.


2022 outlook: buy a raincoat but don't put it on yet

In the 11th year of a bull market, near the end of the cycle, some type of correction is likely. Underneath is solid, healthy and underpinned by strong earnings growth, but there's less room for mistakes.


Time to give up on gold?

In 2021, the gold price failed to sustain its strong rise since 2018, although it recovered after early losses. But where does gold sit in a world of inflation, rising rates and a competitor like Bitcoin?

Investment strategies

Global leaders reveal surprises of 2021, challenges for 2022

In a sentence or two, global experts across many fields are asked to summarise the biggest surprise of 2021, and enduring challenges into 2022. It's a short and sweet view of the changes we are all facing.


2021 was a standout year for stockmarket listings

In 2021, sharemarket gains supported record levels of capital raisings and IPOs in Australia. The range of deals listed here shows the maturity of the local market in providing equity capital.


Let 'er rip: how high can debt-to-GDP ratios soar?

Governments and investors have been complacent about the build up of debt, but at some level, a ceiling exists. Are we near yet? Trouble is brewing, especially in the eurozone and emerging countries.



© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.