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A new LIMRAGen-Zs study explored the financial concerns and priorities of the upper edge of Generation Z (those aged 16 and 17, in grades 11 and 12). By 2020, it is estimated the total Gen Z population will comprise nearly a quarter of the U.S. population. As these young Americans plan their lives post-high school, LIMRA wanted to understand their aspirations and who most influences their financial decisions.

The study found that more than half Gen Zers expect to graduate college within the next 5 years, another 40 percent plan to complete the educational goals later. Half are very or extremely concerned about student loans and 8 in 10 want to learn about options on how to pay for college. 

While almost 6 in 10 Gen Zers would like to start a business of their own and be their own bosses, nearly all realize that achieving this goal will happen much later in life, after they have graduated from college and worked for at least a couple of years.

Where do Gen Z learn about financial topics?

Gen Zers are very interested in learning about various financial topics, like paying for college, creating a budget and strategies on how to save (chart). Currently, Gen Zers primarily rely on their parents to learn about financial topics and through the personal finance courses they take in high school. Yet, they are likely to need more help as they get older. 

According to a 2017 Nielson study, 97 percent of Gen Zers own smartphones. Companies should consider developing apps and other mobile tools to help them create a budget, track expenses and learn about the value of saving early.  While 30 percent say they prefer classroom settings today - that may change as they get out of school.  LIMRA research finds almost three quarters of Gen Zers use YouTube for retail product or service reviews. There are already more than 60,000 YouTube videos teaching basic financial targeted for young people. 

For a company developing material or tools to help this up-and coming generation, LIMRA research recommends the content is customized for the individual’s goals and priorities. For example, for a Gen Zer who wants to go to college, it would make sense to provide information on the options to fund his/her education: through savings, student loans or taking a gap year to work. This can lead to discussions about money management, understanding health care costs and budgeting.

With college costs at an all-time high (on average, more than $24,000 for an in-state public university2), Gen Zers are on the cusp of making financial decisions that could stay with them for the next several years or decades.  Companies and financial advisors who establish a relationship with them and their parents could be starting a long-term profitable relationship.

1The Youth Movement: Gen Z Boasts the Largest Most Diverse Media Users, Nielson (2017)
2 Forum 2017: Trends in Higher Education, College Board

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