Advising Gen Y: It Takes A Village

Young investors seek help on budgeting, saving and how to manage student loans

September 30, 2014 – NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new TIAA-CREF survey finds that Gen Yers rely on personal networks for financial advice, with adults age 18-34 being more likely than the general population to involve their parents (47 percent vs. 19 percent), extended family (22 percent vs. 14 percent) and other trusted adults (31 percent vs. 21 percent) in their search for advice. Thirty-seven percent also involve a spouse or partner to help with their finances.

These findings come from TIAA-CREF’s annual Gen Y Advice Matters Survey, which was conducted by an independent research firm and polled a random sample of 1,000 adults nationwide to assess their attitudes, preferences and behaviors about receiving financial advice.1

Gen Yers are actively planning for their financial future. Of those who sought out advice, many expressed an interest in managing a budget (72 percent), saving for education (65 percent) or managing their student loans (53 percent).

Facebook generation still demands face to face meetings

When it comes to financial advice, it’s not just the topics but also the delivery method that matters to Gen Y. The majority (55 percent) said that their first choice for receiving financial advice is face-to-face, though that number dropped from 65 percent in 2012 as more Gen Yers selected online advice as their first choice. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed say it would be helpful to have advice that’s customized for their age group, and they are more likely to value online tools and calculators (74 percent vs. 57 present of the general population), seminars (68 percent vs. 53 percent) or webinars (67 percent vs. 54 percent) as channels for advice.

“Gen Y gives new meaning to the term connected,” said Kathie Andrade, executive vice president and head of Individual Advisory Services at TIAA-CREF. “It’s important for them to access financial advice via multiple platforms. While this may present a challenge for financial advisors, plan sponsors and employers, it also offers multiple opportunities for them to engage with Gen Y and speak their language when it comes to financial topics.”

The survey also found that individuals who seek advice are invested in their financial well-being and tend to make positive changes. Gen Yers, for example, are 12 percentage points more likely to monitor their spending more frequently (75 percent vs. 63 percent) compared to the general population. They are also 14 percentage points more likely to change their spending habits (76 percent vs. 62 percent) and increase their monthly savings (70 percent vs. 56 percent).

Gen Y gives new meaning to the term connected

As Gen Yers look to their parents for help, they may be learning from their parents’ experiences and trying to find financial stability earlier in life. Only 57 percent of those aged 55 to 64 said that they feel optimistic about their finances, and they may encourage their children to take more action than they did.

“Gen Yers understand how to leverage financial advice to their advantage,” said Andrade. “They make concrete changes to their financial well-being early on that can help them prepare for the future and think ahead to retirement.”

Gen Yers who have received financial advice continue to rely on their personal network on an ongoing basis, which demonstrates they value personal relationships in dealing with financial issues. The findings revealed that 70 percent turn to their family and friends, 45 percent look to their employer, and 17 percent turn to social media. More than half (51 percent) of the survey respondents also take advantage of financial service provider websites or other online tools.





TIAA-CREF helps build financial well-being and confidence by offering a variety of resources and interactive tools related to financial advice and goal-setting. In addition to the online Advice and Guidance Center, TIAA-CREF offers educational programs focusing on trending financial issues, organizes financial empowerment workshops for women and has developed a website geared toward the needs of young professionals called Starting Your Financial Life. The company offers in-person financial services at more than 100 offices across the country and provides access to licensed and trained phone representatives who can answer questions.

For more information on the survey, please read the 2014 TIAA-CREF Advice Matters Executive Summary. For more information on TIAA-CREF’s Advice and Guidance offerings, visit our Advice and Guidance Center.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by KRC Research by phone among a national random sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 years and older, between July 28 and August 7, using a combination of landline and cell phone interviews. The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The survey was not conducted among TIAA-CREF participants, and the survey questions and responses did not reference or concern any TIAA-CREF product, service or client experience.


TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $613 billion in total assets under management (as of 6/30/2014) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.