A Bank of America survey found rich Americans remain split on their views of the future of the economy, and many are taking personal investing into their own hands

  • Nearly half (46%) of affluent Americans are taking time to get their finances in order, according to survey results released by Bank of America on Tuesday.
  • Rich Americans are taking a hands-on approach, with 35% choosing to optimize or actively manage their money more often.  

  • The changes comes as about half of the respondents felt more negatively about the broader economy than they did at the beginning of the year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Affluent Americans remain split about their outlook on the economy, and many are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to their personal finances, according to a recent survey.

Nearly half (46%) of affluent Americans are taking time to get their finances in order, according to survey results released by Bank of America on Tuesday. Rich Americans are taking a hands-on approach, with 35% choosing to optimize or actively manage their money more often.  

The changes comes as about half of the respondents felt more negatively about the broader economy than they did at the beginning of the year. The other half remained equally split, either feeling the same as they did last year, or optimistic heading into 2021. 

"We really find that people have a mixed bag of tempered expectations," Matt Gellene, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's head of consumer client management, told Business Insider. 

The survey polled 2,000 investors who hold accounts with different banks across the US. Those under the age of 25 held investable assets — cash, mutual funds and certificates of deposit to retirement accounts — between $50,000 and $1 million, while investors 25 or over had assets between $100,000 and $1 million. Questions were sent over the course of a week between October and November.

'There are younger, newer people coming into the marketplace'

Millennials, in particular, have begun managing their assets more frequently since the start of the pandemic. Roughly 55% are managing their portfolios more often, the survey found.

"I think what we're finding is that there are younger, newer people coming into the marketplace, and they are spending more time thinking about what it means to begin to invest, to set aside the money to specifically invest," Gellene said. 

Read more: These 7 personal finance start-ups are enticing Gen-Z with virtual piggy banks and video game-style savings — and raised $240 million from investors like Will Smith and JP Morgan.

It's a trend that's been echoed elsewhere among financial firms as companies that skew towards younger customers, like Robinhood and Stash, have seen their user base grow substantially during the pandemic.

The Bank of America survey also noted that more than half of Gen Z and millennial investors use online offerings to manage their money. However, even older generations have begun to go digital, with a decent portion of baby boomers (41%) and seniors (35%) using such apps. 

"I think the overarching theme is one where digitization or digital access is something that everybody wants more and more, and people irrespective of the generations are using," Gellene said. However, Millennials in particular have a higher "predisposition to be digital first, all the way through," he added.

COVID-19 has only accelerated Bank of America's 'digital first' strategy

As at many other firms, Gellene said the COVID-19 pandemic has only quickened the pace of development of digital products at Bank of America.

"As a business, we know we have to be digital first. We definitely have seen an acceleration and we know that it's important for us to be able to deliver for them digitally as we go," Gellene said.

That being said, Gellene said the survey also tracks how Bank of America has approached reaching investors through multiple methods, either digitally or in person. "Are you giving them the platform that's necessary for them to get information and get advice?" asked Gellene. 

See more: The competition for Main Street investors is heating up. Here's Wall Street's playbook for capturing more financial advisors and clients.

He said the survey results have validated Bank of America's strategy to do both. The bank has a comprehensive digital offering in addition to financial advisors available to go through specifics and provide more detailed help.

"What's interesting is that, you would think because knowledge and information tends to be so available and ubiquitous that there would be this self-serve framework that's really permeating" the market, "but you still see many, many, many people looking for advice," Gellene said.

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