97% of teens say financial literacy is important

Gen Z dishes on what they’re looking for in a bank & how they’re taking control of their financial futures

97% of teens say financial literacy is important

SAN FRANCISCO – April 12, 2021 – For decades, many Americans have been taught that money is a taboo topic. In fact, a 2019 report by The Harris Poll revealed that people would rather discuss politics, health issues and religion over personal finances. Gen Z, however, is breaking this mold.

According to a new survey from Step, the modern-day financial services company built for teens and families, a whopping 97% of teens think financial literacy is important and expressed concerns about being written off by traditional banks.

Additionally, as the pandemic has driven more teens to get financially fit, 38% say they still lack the educational resources needed to achieve financial independence. As a result, teens are taking initiative, looking to fintech platforms and social media to help fill this gap.

“While it’s great to see the continued shift towards digital banking, that alone is not enough to combat the financial literacy crisis,” said CJ MacDonald, Founder and CEO at Step. “Teens need products that can be easily embedded within their daily lives and prioritize education as much as functionality.”

CJ MacDonald
Teens need products that can be easily embedded within their daily lives and prioritize education as much as functionality.”

Gen Z isn’t settling for the status quo

When it comes to selecting a bank, teens take this financial relationship very seriously, opting to do their own research instead of just settling for their parent’s bank. They say it’s extremely important that the bank is:

34% of teens think their bank is trustworthy
26% of teens think their bank is built for teens
24% of teens think their bank is fee-free

As for traditional banks, teens are well aware of how they’re viewed and say these institutions get a lot of things wrong. Now they’re setting the record straight and say the biggest misconceptions banks have about Gen Z are that:

42% of teens aren’t concerned about their financial futures
25% of teens don’t make enough money to be seen as valuable customers
20% of teens are okay with paying fees

Teens are taking ownership of their financial futures

Many teens saw their parents struggle during the pandemic and 31% even helped contribute financially. This has left a lasting impression and teens are more determined than ever before to educate themselves about finances.

They are also surprisingly savvy when it comes to understanding various forms of payment and keeping up with economic events that could impact their wallets. For instance, most teens:

70% of teens know what a credit score is
56% of teens are aware of cryptocurrency
55% of teens understand how the stimulus bill works

When asked what financial independence means to them, for some teens it’s as simple as not having to rely on their parents for money (40%) while others are thinking bigger picture and say it will allow them to pursue their dreams without restraint (22%).

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, Step is helping teens get into a #StepMoneyMindset by breaking down key things they need to know about managing their money, featuring conversations with successful entrepreneurs and enabling them to test their knowledge all month long!

Download Step today via the App Store or Google Play and follow us on Instagram and TikTok for the latest updates.

About Step

Step was founded by financial industry veterans CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko to provide teens and their families with financial tools for today’s modern-day banking needs and to promote financial literacy for the future. The company currently has over one million customers, serving as the first bank account for 88% of Step teens. Additionally, the founding team has 50+ years in combined financial technology experience from companies like Gyft, First Data, Square and Google. Step is backed by Coatue, Stripe, Crosslink Capital and Collaborative Fund. Step’s financial products are powered by its bank partner Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC and insured up to $250,000.

About the Survey

The online survey was conducted via Typeform from March 16, 2021 to March 19, 2021, among a demographically representative sample of 1,290 Step users, aged 13 to 17.