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Published: Oct 25, 2022 4 min read
Photo Collage of multiple rolls of one dollar bills next to cryptocurrency coins
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Younger workers may be decades away from retirement, but they’re already thinking about their 401(k)s — and how they want their accounts to be different than older generations.

That’s according to a new study from Schwab, which finds that millennials and Gen Z are more likely than Gen X and baby boomers to want a wider range of investment choices in their retirement accounts — including cryptocurrencies. The survey of 1,100 401(k) plan participants was conducted in April.

“Younger workers today are beginning their financial journey from a different place than older generations did when they began,” Catherine Golladay, Head of Schwab Workplace Financial Services, said in a news release. “They see an opportunity to reach their financial goals through diverse assets that are making them excited about investing and engaged in their financial futures.”

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Gen Z and millennials want crypto in retirement portfolios

Roughly 45% of both Gen Z and millennial retirement savers said they wished they could invest in cryptocurrency via their 401(k) accounts. Just 11% of boomers and 31% of Gen X said the same. It’s no surprise: Cryptocurrency skyrocketed in popularity among younger investors during the pandemic.

Earlier this year, a survey by the IRA rollover service Capitalize found that more than half of Gen Z and millennial adults were including NFTs OR cryptocurrencies as part of their retirement strategies. Another survey conducted by Quinnipiac University found that most people under age 50 believe that cryptocurrency will be a “dominant economic force” in the years to come.

It’s worth noting that cryptocurrency is an inherently risky investment, and that younger savers may be more suited to take on that risk than their older counterparts because they have a longer investment horizon.

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ESG, fractional shares and annuities are popular too

It’s not just crypto. More than a third of both Gen Z and millennial retirement savers said they wished their 401(k)s could include ESG (environmental, social and governance) or other socially responsible investment options.

The same portion wanted the option for their 401(k) accounts to be invested in fractional shares — slices of shares you can often buy for as little as $1 — rather than having to trade whole shares. Fractional shares aren’t a new concept, but they gained popularity as the stock market soared during the pandemic.

Younger savers are also looking for more traditionally “safe” investments, like annuities that will offer guaranteed income after retirement. Schwab found that more than 40% of both Gen Z and millennials said they wanted the option to invest in annuities via their 401(k), while just 28% of boomers said the same.

More from Money:

Many Gen Z Workers Plan on Retiring Early — With $2 Million in the Bank

Gen Z Has a New Priority: Saving for Retirement

Most Millennial and Gen Z Investors Say Crypto Is Part of Their Retirement Strategy