In the past few years, consumers have learned painful lessons about the need to save and invest money. But many consumers lack even basic knowledge about how to invest and what they might expect for returns. To find help, men and women of all ages are turning to new sources to gather information.

A recent report released by  ShareBuilder from ING DIRECT USA indicates that investor expectations and strategies vary significantly by age.

Younger investors, those between the ages of 21 to 39, share the following characteristics:

  • Likely to invest more money in 2010: 43%
  • Believe they need at least $500 to begin investing: 48%
  • Expect returns of between 10-30%: 31%

To obtain advice and information, these younger investors use the following resources:

  • Financial Web sites/blogs: 49%
  • Financial print publications: 39%
  • Financial planners: 35%
  • Brokers: 18%

Older investors, which the study characterized as being between the ages of 40-65, share the following profile:

  • Likely to invest more money in 2010: 33%
  • Believe they need at least $500 to begin  investing: 56%

For advice, older investors turn to:

  • Financial Web sites/blogs: 47%
  • Financial print publications: 41%
  • Financial planners: 39%
  • Brokers: 36%

Survey analysts noted that more consumers are relying on themselves to make investments. But younger consumers are notably worried about their ability to invest and often seek the counsel of their parents. Given this situation, marketers of various financial investment products may shift some of their pitches to parents in an effort to secure the business of younger consumers.

[Source: ING DIRECT USA’s ShareBuilder Survey Shows Financial Press and Bloggers are Key Investor Influencers and Investors Expect Surprisingly High Returns. InformationWeek. 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2010]