‘Gen Z invests for reasons that are completely different from previous generations’ with US Bank’s Dr. Julie O’Brien and Rob Haworth

  • Recent research from US Bank shows a marked difference in how Gen Z approaches money, spending, and investing.
  • US Bank's Dr. Julie O'Brien, head of behavioral science, and Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist, join us on the podcast to discuss the implications in better serving the younger demographic.

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‘Gen Z invests for reasons that are completely different from previous generations’ with US Bank’s Dr. Julie O’Brien and Rob Haworth

One place Gen Z diverges from generations that came before it is in investing. For example,  research shows that younger folks invest for completely different reasons than previous generations. It’s not about financial status for Gen Z – it’s about a better quality of life. Values also play a big role in investment decisions, as Gen Z tends to put its money where their values are. Actually, there are a whole bunch of important topics here that require some understanding if you want to do better providing investment services and advice to Gen Z.

To do that, Rabab and I are joined by Dr. Julie O’Brien, head of behavioral science, and Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at US Bank. We dig deeper, discussing recent research Dr. O’Brien authored that looks to better understand the investment needs and behaviors of Gen Z. It’s an interesting conversation – glad you’re joining us.

And, speaking of joining us, Tearsheet is hosting our first symposium on Gen Z and financial services. It’s March 7 in NYC at Mastercard’s Tech Hub. It’s an intimate group of financial services professionals really exploring what it means to build lovable financial products and services for Gen Z. You can find more information about it on our website – just click on events and apply for a ticket.

Here’s our conversation with US Bank’s Dr. Julie O’Brien and Rob Haworth.

The big ideas

  1. Gen Z invests for reasons that are completely different from previous generations: Gen Z invests because they want a “better quality of life” not because they are aiming for a certain financial status. And this is largely motivated by the stage of life they are in: Gen Z is currently exploring its identity and hasn’t been able to build up to the basic necessities of life like a house or a car like older generations have.
  2. Value-driven investment decisions play a huge role in Gen Z’s investment decisions: Gen Z is still exploring who they are and part of that is expressing their identity through their money-related decisions like investments.
  3. But something is unique about the world Gen Z is growing up in: From the housing market to the pandemic, there are external factors that Gen Z has grown up in which older generations hadn’t seen at this age. This may end up impacting how they behave when it comes to saving and investing money.
  4. Social media is full of noise and it’s hard to be in control of what the Gen Z consumer interacts with: Banks are often criticized for their limited presence on social media but the reality remains that they are only one voice is a sea of sound.
  5. Automation without the human advisor layer isn’t enough: Even robo-advisors that started out as completely automated solutions are now adding layers of human advice, but banks were aware of this reality for quite some time and have acted accordingly.
  6. It’s important to build Gen Z up: The young generation is facing challenges and short term problems can cloud long term decisions making. Focused digital and in-person interventions by the bank can help get Gen Z consumers from savings to investing. 

Listen to the full episode


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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Read the full transcript (for Tearsheet Pro subscribers)

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