Advisor Authority

Planning With Gen Z And Millennial

Financial literacy is the first step to securing your financial future

by: David Levenson

After 25 years of serving in executive leadership roles with The Hartford and Edward Jones, David Levenson was named president and CEO of LIMRA and LOMA in 2018. In this role, he is responsible for leading one of the world’s largest associations of life insurance and financial services companies, representing 700 member organizations across 70 countries.

LIMRA research has consistently shown that most consumers do not understand basic financial concepts that would enable them to make the right decisions to secure their financial future. This is particularly true for Millennial and Gen Z adults (ages 18 – 43). This lack of knowledge often leads to poor decisions or procrastination, leaving many at financial risk. This has rightfully led to additional efforts to improve financial literacy in this country.
There’s a bigger imperative on young adults today to become financially literate. Young adults are entering their prime working years, buying homes, getting married and having children. Yet they face greater costs for education, higher inflation and a tight housing market, making it more difficult to reach traditional milestones. Moreover, the number of solutions coming at them has proliferated and, while some of that may be good, determining which financial concerns to address and how to best address them is complicated.

Despite Confidence In Financial Knowledge, Young Adults Are Less Financially Secure

According to LIMRA research, younger adults are more confident than older generations in their understanding of financial matters. This could be because they started learning about finances early in their lives. About 8 in 10 Gen Z and Millennial adults said their parents discussed simple financial principles with them while they were growing up — often about the basics of savings, creating a budget, and managing debt.
Yet young adults feel less certain about their financial security. In the 2024 Insurance Barometer Study, young adults report higher levels of financial concern than older generations. These concerns include paying for medical expenses, supporting themselves if they are unable to work, and paying monthly bills.

Additionally, young adults were more likely to rank themselves lower on a 10-point financial wellness scale than older adults. According to LIMRA research, both Gen Z and Millennial adults ranked themselves below a five while Gen X and Baby Boomers ranked themselves above a five on the wellness scale.

A Challenging Financial Landscape

Arguably, young adults face a tougher financial landscape today than their parents did. The average cost of higher education, for example, more than doubled over two decades from $152,716 in 2004 to $320,431 in 2024 (adjusting for inflation), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 Home prices nearly doubled over the past two decades as well; the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports the median home sale prices in the fourth quarter of 2023 reached $417,700.2

Most notable is that more of today’s young adults are reaching major life milestones — getting married, having children, or buying a home — much later in life than their parents did. The Pew Research Center finds that 25-year-olds today were less likely than 25-year-olds in 1980 to be married (22% versus 63% respectively), have children (17% versus 39%), or live somewhere independently of their parents (68% versus 84%).3

Our industry has an opportunity to help today’s young adults achieve financial security with better education. Providing sound financial tools and resources can help them successfully navigate the unique financial challenges they face. There are several ways to do this, but one might start with their workplace benefits offerings and by accessing a reputable financial professional.

Workplace Benefits Programs Can Improve Financial Wellness

More than 30% of Gen Z and Millennial adults say their personal financial worries have been a distraction at work. More financial education can help workers address their financial challenges, reduce their stress, and improve focus and productivity.

Workers want these benefits, too. LIMRA research shows that almost 7 in 10 young adults agree their employer should provide services that address financial stress. Additionally, 67% of Millennials and 64% of Gen Z workers agree their employers should offer employees financial education.

A recent LIMRA survey about workforce wellness asked employers about some of the educational components that are a part of their wellness programs. Offerings such as holistic financial planning (offered by 41% of employers), retirement savings (30%), general budgeting (23%), or debt management education (10%) can help younger workers increase their financial literacy and help them make the right decisions to secure their future.

Financial advisors can help young adults build healthy money management habits such as budgeting, saving for retirement, or funding an emergency savings account, while also demonstrating how products like life insurance and disability insurance offer protection against the unexpected...

Of course, offering these financial resources alone is not enough. Employers need to ensure their workers understand that these benefits are available to them. Twenty-six percent of Gen Z employees, for example, are not sure if their employers even provide an employee wellness program. This further emphasizes the need for consistent and clear communication. 

Financial Professionals Can Boost Financial Literacy Both Individually And Broadly

Financial advisors can help young adults build healthy money management habits such as budgeting, saving for retirement, or funding an emergency savings account, while also demonstrating how products like life insurance and disability insurance offer protection against the unexpected.

According to LIMRA’s consumer study, more than a quarter of young people say they value a professional who takes a holistic approach to their financial planning, addressing all areas of a customer’s financial situation. With improved financial literacy, young adults may take more action toward building a secure future regardless of the life milestones they’ve achieved. A financial professional, for example, could highlight how a life insurance policy can be more affordable the younger and healthier a person is.

Financial professionals can also use social media to promote financial literacy to a broader audience. Visual, educational, and engaging content can make it easier for young people to connect with financial information.

Among those who use social media for financial information, LIMRA data show the top three social media sites for young adults to use are:

  • Facebook: (67% Millennials and 54% Gen Z)
  • YouTube: (68% Millennials and 62% Gen Z) and
  • Instagram: (54% Millennials and 57% Gen Z).

Financial professionals should leverage their social media platform to help young adults avoid financial misinformation or plain bad advice. There are thousands of financial influencers on social media, but not all of them are qualified to give financial guidance. Instead, licensed financial professionals can build awareness around the risks that certain investments may have. They can help young adults better discern sound financial advice from “get rich quick” schemes and investments.

Financial education should be emphasized for all stages of life. By providing the tools and resources to promote financial literacy, our industry can help younger adults achieve a sound financial future.

 

 

 

1 Price Inflation for College Tuition and Fees Since 1977, Consumer Price Index, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2 Average Sales Price of Houses Sold for in the United States, Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
3Most in the U.S. say young adults today face more challenges than their parents’ generation in some key areas, Pew Research Center, 2022.