A 2017 report from 747 Insights and Collaborata, called “Generation Nation,” surveyed more than 4,000 Americans from their late teens to early 70s, gathering opinions on everything from work friendships to brands. Insights gleaned from the study helped identify interesting differences between the generations on a number of topics.
For Gen Z, it was found that they are less patriotic than previous generations and may not be as swayed by pro-America brands. Additionally, while social media is important to them, how they use it differs from millennials — the generation known for popularizing social media. Gen Z tends to favor less-public outlets that provide much more control over who can see their posts, such as Snapchat.
This generation also exhibits the greatest acceptance of diversity and inclusion of all generations, according to the study. That’s likely because Gen Z is the most diverse generation in America, according to the Census Bureau, which reported that 48 percent of the makeup of Gen Z is non-Caucasian. Compare that to the next most-diverse generation, millennials, with a 44 percent non-Caucasian makeup.
Believe it or not, the oldest group of Gen Z is already in the workforce full time or will be in the next couple of years. Many are also beginning to participate in internships and work part time. Getting to know their financial habits and attitudes towards finance in general is going to be a topic of endless discussion in the coming years.
Financial research firm Raddon, a Fiserv company, last year analyzed data collected from 2,500 teens between the ages of 16 and 18 and found that two-thirds of those surveyed already had a financial account and were three times more likely to take a financial education seminar than millennials. Gen Z is already proving to be a group that’s more financially aware and seems to have learned a few things by watching their predecessors.
What have they learned?
Student debt is one of the hottest topics discussed in relation to millennials. Because of this $1.4 trillion topic, Gen Z is much more concerned with debt and the cost of their education. Many intentionally choose colleges that won’t leave them debt-ridden.
Because of their own experiences with debt, my millennial clients are much more concerned about education planning for their children than older clients have been over the years. They don’t want their children to be burdened with the debt that many of them are still dealing with, so many start 529 plans as soon as they get their child’s social security number.
Gen Z is also keen on saving to avoid debt. A 2017 study by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 21 percent of Gen Z respondents have had a savings account since before they were 10 years old, and some have already started saving for retirement, with 35 percent saying they plan to start saving in their 20s.
More to learn about Gen Z
As much as millennials have been studied and classified over the past several years, Gen Z is sure to be similarly probed and cataloged — especially since they are expected to become the largest generation of consumers by 2020. We will certainly be paying close attention to better understand and service the unique financial needs of this new generation.
Jennifer Pagliara is a senior vice president and financial adviser with CapWealth and a proud member of the Millennial generation. Her column speaks to her peers and anyone else that wants to get ahead financially.