US: Gen Z behaviors and attitudes towards finance
May 2nd, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

US: Gen Z behaviors and attitudes towards finance

As the first generation to grow up entirely in the digital age, Gen Z has the potential to shape the future of finance, banking, and investments. This generation is fast maturing – two-fifths (41%) of its adult members in the US have already entered the workforce, either in a full-time or part-time capacity. This number is certain to swell over the coming years as more Gen Zers finish up with education – the share of adult Gen Z Americans currently studying full-time stands at 33%.

As an increasing portion of them becomes ready to enter the workforce, it is prudent for financial institutions, banks, and insurance companies to get an insight into their preferences.

In this article, built around YouGov Profiles, which continuously captures data on hundreds of unique variables, we take a closer look at some key attitudes and behaviours of the adult members of Gen Z when it comes to finance, banking, and investments.

What types of instruments do they own and what are they looking to add over the next 12 months?

Expectedly Gen Z members are less likely than Americans on the whole to currently own traditional investment instruments such as savings accounts (22% vs 36%), common stock (11% vs 18%) and life insurance (7% vs 20%). What’s surprising, though, is that already a higher share of them reports owning corporate bonds (10% vs 7%), and the reported ownership rates of exchange traded funds between the two groups aren’t dissimilar either (10% vs 9%).

While this demonstrates the changing preferences of younger Americans with respect to where to hold and grow their money, it doesn’t mean that traditional instruments such as savings accounts have lost their sheen. Rather, the demand for this trusty old financial instrument over the next 12 months is very strong. A quarter of Gen Z consumers say they are very likely to take out a savings account (23%) compared to only 13% of all Americans.

Over the next year, Gen Z has a stronger rate of demand for almost all common investment products, with the exception of life insurance which is tied at 8% for both groups. This drives home the point that financial institutions need to train their resources towards attracting this growing wave of eager customers.

How do they research insurance and which policies do they hold?

Insurance ownership among Gen Z lags quite substantially. Only a fifth of them say they own a health insurance policy compared to half of all Americans (19% vs 49%). Rates are similarly quite low for collision coverage (15% vs 42%), liability (9% vs 42%), homeowner’s insurance (9% vs 42%) and comprehensive cover (13% vs 40%), among others. This low adoption rate can be partially explained by the fact that Gen Z members are nearly twice as likely as all Americans to think that insurance is for unlucky people (34% vs 19%).

Like with investments, it is reasonable to expect these gaps in insurance ownership to narrow over time, as members of the generation mature further. Brands that drill home the importance of owning insurance could stand to win build brand equity among this cohort. But how can insurance brands effectively reach this audience? Data on how they research insurance products might offer a clue.

A plurality of them rely on advice from friends and family when it comes to purchasing insurance (43% vs 34%). A significant chunk of them also banks on information derived from price comparison websites (27%), websites of insurers/brokers they know (24%).

Compared to the national population, Gen Z consumers also show a strong relative preference to research insurance via websites of banks or other financial advisers (15% vs 7%) and calling or visiting their local bank to see what they can offer (14% vs 4%).


Gen Z is an enthusiastic bunch with a particularly strong affinity towards products that are often deemed as being risky. They are 58% likelier than all Americans to agree with the statement “I don’t mind taking risks with my money”. They are also 55% likelier to state that they “like to take risks in the stock market”.

On the theme of the appetite for risk, it is worth noting that they are also far more optimistic about the future of new-age investments such as cryptocurrency. Nearly two-fifths of them say they would be willing to give up their bank account to use cryptocurrencies instead (37% vs 17% of all Americans). And, half of them believe that cryptocurrencies are the future of online transactions (49% vs 31%).

While the potential for growth within this cohort is exponential, it is important for finance and insurance brands to offer clarity in their marketing. In spite of the enthusiasm some Gen Z members show for certain financial instruments, matters of finance can still be confusing to this young demographic. Nearly two-thirds of them (63%) say financial matters confuse them compared to only 40% of all Americans.

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Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.