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Digitally born, digitally demanding: Generation Z and the future of finance

Aalekh Bhatt
11 July 2023

Generation Z. Gen Z. “Zoomers”. Born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z grew-up alongside smartphones, social media, and constant connectivity. They are the first digital-native generation, and they expect a consistent, seamless digital experience in every aspect of their lives. This has created a generational gap where technology is concerned, particularly with the “Baby Boomer” generation (born between 1946-1964), who are beginning to retire out of the market.

Technological upbringing isn’t the only thing that sets them apart. Gen Z favors lifestyle spending, or “soft saving”, over aggressive saving goals. This is in marked contrast with Millennials who prefer “FIRE” (Financial Independence, Retire Early) trends in saving. Going further, the “Zoomer” generation gravitates towards immediate gratification and, particularly, “Buy now, pay later” services.

Innovative intentions, inexperienced implementation

Gen Z is also beset by a very tumultuous financial world. Macroeconomic trends like inflated real estate and education prices form a tight market. When combined with their “soft saving” habits, this uncertainty creates a lack of confidence in terms of wealth and inheritance. This has, in turn, pushed Gen Z into entirely new avenues of finance.

Increased digitalization and the expectations for personalized engagements are the foundation for the innovations that Gen Z is driving. They prefer mobile apps and online solutions rather than traditional cash or card payments. Online success stories have bolstered Zoomer’s faith in cryptocurrency and “meme stocks”, or social media fueled investment campaigns. While innovative, this reveals Gen Z’s limited knowledge of financial products.

“Gen Z respondents averaged the lowest (43%) in answering finance-related questions correctly”
– TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at the George Washington University School of Business.

Moreover, by 2030, it is estimated that Gen Z will inherit around $30 trillion from their parents and grandparents. This incredible sum underlines them as a vital demographic for wealth management firms and banks.

So, how can they win over a generation raised on the internet, with shorter attention spans, high expectations in speed and personalization, and born into a very uncertain financial market?

Education and guidance

Gen Z will need trustworthy and agile financial advisors to help them manage their inheritance. Wealth management firms must offer educational resources that cover financial literacy, investment strategies, and responsible financial practices – and deliver all these articles, videos, webinars, and workshops in a way that connects and relates to Gen Z.

Financial planning for major life events

Pursuing higher education, starting careers, buying homes, and getting married are the kinds of life decisions that necessitate sound financial planning. Wealth managers play a crucial role by bridging the gap between Gen Z’s dreams and their financial reality.

Impact Investing and values-based decisions

Gen Z is a socially active generation. 92% believe that helping others in need is important and prefer to associate with brands that align with their beliefs. Wealth management firms will need to adapt and offer sustainable investing options, ESG-focused portfolios, and make ethical considerations a center-point of their overall strategy.

Digital natives require digital solutions

As the first digital-native generation, Gen Z expects personalized digital solutions, user-friendly interfaces, and digital offers that cater to their expectations and preferences.

Innovation and partnerships with FinTech

Fresh approaches are necessary to meet the unique demands of this generation. They expect continual innovation and settle only for leading-edge solutions. Wealth management firms and banks must differentiate themselves if they hope to capture Gen Z’s attention. Collaboration with FinTech and embracing new business models is an imperative.

What comes next?

It’s nothing new to suggest that every generation brings with them fresh ideas, new horizons, and changing expectations. Gen Z is no exception. This new generation of clients is just beginning their financial journeys, navigating a complex world, and bringing their values with them. Understanding this, wealth management firms and banks stand to not only form valuable partnerships but drive transformation across the industry.

What Gen Z need are trusted, experienced advisors that understand finance while bringing digital solutions to the table. Looking to the future, this is a trend that will only amplify with future generations as digitalization and enhanced personalization continues to develop and branch into ever-changing digital trends. Staying ahead, maintaining a fresh approach, and providing an open-minded network of support will ensure Gen Z’s loyalty for decades to come.


Aalekh Bhatt

Aalekh Bhatt

Go To Market lead – Digital Marketing, UK Banking
Aalekh drives the Digital Marketing services got-to-market for UK banking and capital market clients. He works on helping client marketing organizations embrace customer-centricity. His key areas of focus are experience transformation, content, customer data and martech across banking, wealth management and payment services domains.