Ranging from 13 to 22 years old, some members of Generation Z may have just gotten their first cell phone, but that does not mean advisors should brush them off.
A recent TD Ameritrade survey of Gen-Z’ers and their parents reveals that going beyond Generation X and Generation Y could be smart move for advisors looking to build closer relationships with parents and help clients start planning earlier for financial independence and even retirement.
“This generation faces those unique challenges like increasing tuition costs, a continuation of a bleak job market, an interest rate hike on student loans, and parents’ inability to help pay for college,” Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investment services at TD Ameritrade, said in a phone interview. “These are things that, unfortunately, they are going to be forced to start thinking about a little bit earlier.”
While Gen-Z cared most about identity theft, they reported being almost equally concerned with affording college and student loans as well as jobs and unemployment. Those were worries they shared with parents, many of whom (43%) were still paying back student loans themselves.
Gen-Z voiced good intentions in terms of saving money for those hurdles. When asked what they would do with an extra $500, 55% of Gen-Z respondents wrote in spontaneously that they would save it.
Still, a majority of Gen-Z, 74%, had not heard of 529 savings plans, and neither had 49% of their parents. That leaves a huge opening for advisors to educate clients and talk with parents, especially since among those who reported having a 529 savings plan, over 82% started it when their child was 10 years old, the survey reported.
“You can really go through pros and cons of these types of savings plans, so it’s great to reach out for some help,” Braxdale noted.
Additionally, Gen-Z exhibits some early signs of bad savings habits. More than half, 54%, of those who have credit cards left a balance unpaid for six months or longer. Many, even 23% of those in the 19 to 22 age range, reported not having either a checking or savings account, key tools in learning budgeting, according to the survey.
That can make a difference when it comes to saving up. TD Ameritrade reported that those with more experience were deemed better budgeters and had $850 more saved up in their accounts on average.
Part of the remedy is consulting with parents, but advisors can also offer tools and information on their website. TD Ameritrade provides several calculators, such as a Wealth Ruler, where parents or children can input savings goals and determine what they need to do to reach those goals as well as how much they lose by waiting to take action.
Nineteen percent of Gen-Z reported already having an investment or savings product such as a custodial IRA or college savings plan, and showing interest early on helps build long-term relationships with these future investors, said Braxdale.
“There’s no question that this is a relationship business and a trust business, and the sooner you can earn or build that trust or earn the relationship, not only for the short term, that’s always a positive thing,” Braxdale said.