Gen Z Workers Are Financially ‘Mature for Their Age’: Schwab

September 24, 2021

One-third said they are very likely to follow computer-generated advice, versus a quarter of other generations, and 60% of Gen Z participants are very likely to follow financial advice from a human, compared with 54% of older respondents. 

One in 3 Gen Z participants said they want help managing their current expenses so that they can save more money for retirement, versus 22% for all other participants, and 29% want help managing their debt, versus 15% for all others. 

They are also interested in their general financial wellness; about half welcome online assessment tools that can give them an overall financial picture and action plan. 

Gen Z is more optimistic than other generations about adopting positive financial behaviors in the post-pandemic world:

  • Saving more in general: 62% vs 47%.
  • Paying off debt: 48% vs 33%.
  • Increasing 401(k) contributions: 47% vs 36%.
  • Investing more outside their 401(k): 44% vs 34%.
  • Rebalancing their 401(k): 40% vs 30%.

The survey findings indicate that saving and investing for retirement may prove more important for Gen Z workers than other generations. Only 43% of Gen Z are optimistic about reaching their retirement goals, compared with 53% of all other participants, and just 7% expect retirement income to come from Social Security, compared with 17% for older generations. 

Gen Z workers said they expect 36% of their retirement income to come from their or their partner’s 401(k) savings, whereas older workers expect 41% from these sources. 

Helping Younger Workers Plan and Save 

Across generations, 401(k) plans continue to be a must-have benefit for workers who often struggle to keep track of multiple accounts as they change jobs, according to Schwab. This includes Gen Z participants, who reported having changed jobs twice already on average. 

Thirty-one percent of Gen Z said they do not feel on top of their 401(k), versus 23% of older participants, and 51% acknowledged that they do not know what investments to choose for their 401(k) to have enough for retirement, compared with only 32% of older participants. 

Many Gen Z and millennial participants said they want more investment options in their retirement plans. Forty-five percent of Gen Z and 52% of millennials wished they had an annuity that offers guaranteed income as an option in their retirement plan, compared with 39% of Gen X and 26% of baby boomers. 

Similarly, more Gen Z and millennials than Gen X and boomers want ESG and socially responsible investment options. More of the former than the latter also wish they had fractional shares as an investment option.

The younger and older generations differ as well in their interest in benefits beyond the 401(k), including emergency savings accounts, financial wellness programs and tuition reimbursement — all these to manage everyday finances in addition to saving for retirement.