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

Unexpected results in our retirement income survey

Who knew? With some surprise results, the Government is on unexpected firm ground in asking people to draw on all their assets in retirement, although the comments show what feisty and informed readers we have.

Three all-time best tables for every adviser and investor

It's a remarkable statistic. In any year since 1875, if you had invested in the Australian stock index, turned away and come back eight years later, your average return would be 120% with no negative periods.

The looming excess of housing and why prices will fall

Never stand between Australian households and an uncapped government programme with $3 billion in ‘free money’ to build or renovate their homes. But excess supply is coming with an absence of net migration.

Five stocks that have worked well in our portfolios

Picking macro trends is difficult. What may seem logical and compelling one minute may completely change a few months later. There are better rewards from focussing on identifying the best companies at good prices.

10 reasons wealthy homeowners shouldn't receive welfare

The RBA Governor says rising house prices are due to "the design of our taxation and social security systems". The OECD says "the prolonged boom in house prices has inflated the wealth of many pensioners without impacting their pension eligibility." What's your view?

Six COVID opportunist stocks prospering in adversity

Some high-quality companies have emerged even stronger since the onset of COVID and are well placed for outperformance. We call these the ‘COVID Opportunists’ as they are now dominating their specific sectors.

Latest Updates


10 reasons wealthy homeowners shouldn't receive welfare

The RBA Governor says rising house prices are due to "the design of our taxation and social security systems". The OECD says "the prolonged boom in house prices has inflated the wealth of many pensioners without impacting their pension eligibility." What's your view?


Sean Fenton on marching to your own investment tune

Is it more difficult to find stocks to short in a rising market? What impact has central bank dominance had over stock selection? How do you combine income and growth in a portfolio? Where are the opportunities?


D’oh! DDO rules turn some funds into a punching bag

The Design and Distribution Obligations (DDO) come into effect in two weeks. They will change the way banks promote products, force some small funds to close to new members and push issues into the listed space.


Dividends, disruption and star performers in FY21 wrap

Company results in FY21 were generally good with some standout results from those thriving in tough conditions. We highlight the companies that delivered some of the best results and our future  expectations.

Fixed interest

Coles no longer happy with the status quo

It used to be Down, Down for prices but the new status quo is Down Down for emissions. Until now, the realm of ESG has been mainly fund managers as 'responsible investors', but companies are now pushing credentials.

Investment strategies

Seven factors driving growth in Managed Accounts

As Managed Accounts surge through $100 billion for the first time, the line between retail, wholesale and institutional capabilities and portfolios continues to blur. Lower costs help with best interest duties.


Reader Survey: home values in age pension asset test

Read our article on the family home in the age pension test, with the RBA Governor putting the onus on social security to address house prices and the OECD calling out wealthy pensioners. What is your view?



© 2021 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.