Financial Education in Times of Trouble…or “Less Panic at the Disco” 

Friday, June 2, 2023  |   Helen Acke McComiskey, Strategic Advisor

Raise your hand if your Financial Institution received more than five phone calls post Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) fail asking if their accounts were insured? Raise your hand if you had to do quick training sessions for your staff on FDIC/NCUA insured accounts, the limits and why that is important? And again, that your customers are insured.

These are just a few examples of consumers and employees lacking sufficient financial education and awareness to this type of information. Which, under normal circumstances might not seem important, but we passed “normal circumstances” a few years ago. Currently, financial institutions (FI's) are compelled to issue statements to reassure customers and provide explanations regarding their funds being insured, while attempting to educate them using concise formats such as 140 characters or less or a three-minute video. Maybe it’s time to be Pro-active instead of Re-active?

Different Generations want and absorb financial education differently, but the common thread among all the generations is that there is a need for more information, and quickly. Let’s start with Gen Z.

Gen Z looks to two main sources for information, financial or otherwise: Parents/family and social media. Great- what does that mean to FI's? It means that 1) It is crucial to establish a presence on social media platforms that Gen Z frequents, excluding Facebook and Google, to effectively reach this demographic. 2) Ensuring that Gen Z parents are well-informed is essential so that they can engage in meaningful conversations with their children regarding these inquiries.

Figure 1: 50% or more of Gen Z look to their parents and family first when it comes to financial advice. However, Gen Z finds social media more valuable than financial institutions.

Where Gen Zers Turn Today for Financial Advice

Now let’s talk about the parents of Gen Z. While this generation may have received more financial education in school, that was some time ago and the financial landscape has evolved. Proudly, parents of Gen Z that are Gen X are tech savvy and tend to not have the technology gap. However, there remains a noticeable gap in products and consumers' confidence in discussing and providing advice about them. Sure, most people have bought a car or applied for a credit card. But, when you get into investments, collage debt, insurance and certainly the differences between a credit union, a community bank, a fintech, etc., there is a learning curve for many.

Figure 2: In 2022, parents of Gen Z claimed to be confident about educating on how to purchase a car and budgeting. Not so confident in real estate and investing.

Parents’ Areas of Confidence in Gen Z Children’s Financial Actions

Moving onto the Millennials- they have a decent handle on financial education and Planning, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need for additional education. For instance, Millennials still have the desire to purchase a home sooner rather than later. While the economy and home values may be slowing down slightly, the need for your customers to be educated on the home buying process should not slow down. First time home buyer information, seminars, government programs, etc. should be top of mind when thinking about financial education.

Figure 3: Home purchase intentions moderate in 2022 after climbing dramatically before the pandemic, however they are still historically high.

Do Millennials Have Intentions of Being Homeowners?

When it comes to thinking about their future, Millennials have taken the lead. Millennials are the most likely to invest in the next 12 months, are most interested in stocks and retirement accounts, and they are also most likely to have a Financial Advisor. Many consumers, including Millennials are not aware that their Primary Financial Institution (PFI) offers Investment Services. If they did, many would be willing to do business there. Preparing for their financial future is the type of education many consumers are looking for.

Figure 4: Millennials have become very proactive when it comes to gaining financial advice and planning for their future.

Millennials Are More Likely to Have Financial Advisors than Any Other Generation

No matter what age, income level or stage of life, most consumers are not prepared, or do not feel they are prepared to meet their financial goals. Customers may want or need your help, even if they don’t realize they do. So, what can you do to offer financial education to all customers?

  • Offer assistance! Don’t assume older consumers don’t need help or that Gen Z is too young.
  • Meet members where they are! Relevant social media, financial advisors, seminars, videos, etc.
  • Merge High-Tech and High Touch. Make sure your experts are ready and available to assist on all channels.

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