Are You Ready for How Different Gen Z’s Banking Behaviors Are?

The report: Generational Wealth 2024: How financial attitudes differ among Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.

Source: YouGov

Why we picked it: The stark generational divides revealed here signal a seismic shift in the banking landscape that goes far beyond surface-level trends. Gen Z’s radically different approach to finance — embracing risk, prioritizing digital solutions and showing a willingness to abandon traditional banking altogether — represents an existential challenge to the very foundations of the industry. This isn’t merely about adapting products or updating mobile apps; it’s about reimagining the entire concept of what a bank is and does in the 21st century. Failure to grasp the depth of this transformation could result in banks becoming obsolete, replaced by more agile fintech companies or decentralized financial systems that better align with Gen Z’s values and expectations.

Moreover, this report underscores a critical truth: the future of banking is inextricably linked to broader societal shifts. Gen Z’s financial attitudes reflect deeper changes in how they view work, wealth and their place in the world. Their optimism about wealth creation, coupled with their confusion about financial matters, speaks to a generation shaped by economic uncertainty yet empowered by technology.

For bankers, understanding these nuances is crucial not just for product development, but for long-term strategic planning. It raises profound questions about the role of financial institutions in society: Should banks be educators as well as service providers? How can they balance their fiduciary responsibilities with Gen Z’s appetite for risk? How might they need to restructure to compete with the agility of fintech startups?

Executive Summary

In an era of unprecedented financial transformation, Gen Z is emerging as a force to be reckoned with. As traditional banking models face disruption, this young generation is embracing risk, cryptocurrency and mobile-first solutions with open arms. Understanding and adapting to Gen Z’s unique financial attitudes isn’t just smart for banking providers — it’s survival.

A comprehensive new report from YouGov reveals stark generational divides in financial attitudes and behaviors. While older generations cling to traditional banking methods and risk-averse strategies, Gen Z and millennials are charting a bold new course. They’re more willing to take financial risks and more likely to embrace cutting-edge technologies like cryptocurrency and mobile banking apps. But in the very same vein, they are more confused by financial matters.

Banks and credit unions must navigate a complex terrain of changing consumer preferences, technological advancements and economic uncertainties — which won’t stop with Gen Z. The insights provided by this report offer a crucial roadmap for executives looking to position their institutions at the forefront of this transformation.

Key Takeaways:

  • 55% of Gen Z believes it’s easier to achieve generational wealth now than it used to be, compared to just 37% of the general population.
  • Only 38% of Gen X consider themselves financially secure, the lowest percentage among all generations.
  • Traditional banks like Bank of America, Chase and Capital One still dominate brand consideration across all age groups, despite the rise of fintech companies.
  • When faced with economic pressures, all generations listed “eating out” as their top category for potential cutbacks.
  • 36% of Gen Z are willing to give up their bank account and use cryptocurrency instead.

The Generational Wealth Mindset

Gen Z is entering the financial world with a strikingly optimistic outlook. More than half (55%) believe that earning generational wealth is more possible for those born after 1997 than it used to be. This optimism stands in stark contrast to the general population, where only 37% share this view.

One of the most striking findings is the sharp divide in risk tolerance across generations. A majority of Gen Z (54%) don’t mind taking risks with their money, compared to just 16% of Baby Boomers. This appetite for risk extends to the stock market, with 43% of Gen Z willing to take risks there, versus only 12% of Baby Boomers.

However, this willingness to take risks is coupled with a concerning lack of financial literacy. Gen Z and millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to agree that financial matters confuse them. This combination of high risk tolerance and low financial literacy presents both a challenge and an opportunity for banks to provide targeted education and advisory services.

Both Gen Z and millennials are willing and excited to learn, if financial institutions were to step further into the role of the financial advisor, even if, overall, they feel less financially secure than older generations. Despite a willingness to take risks, younger generations are also proving to be conscientious savers. A higher percentage of both generations (72% and 70% respectively) say they are already good at saving up for what they want — compared to 63% of Gen X and 68% of Baby Boomers. Moreover, roughly eight out of both Gen Z and millennials say they are planning to save more money next year. hey still lag in feeling financially

The Financial Outlook Across Generations: Brand Preferences and Loyalty

The report provides interesting insights into how different generations view their financial futures. Gen Z and millennials are more optimistic about their financial situations in the next 12 months compared to older generations. However, they’re also more likely to feel financially insecure in the present.

The report concludes with insights into brand preferences across generations. Interestingly, traditional banks like Bank of America, Chase and Capital One still dominate consideration across all age groups. However, newer entrants like Cash App and Chime are making significant inroads among younger consumers.

wdt_ID wdt_created_by wdt_created_at wdt_last_edited_by wdt_last_edited_at Average Score FI Gen Z Gen Y Gen X Boom Silent Rating (by avg score) Rating
16 17.8% Chase 19.3% 20.3% 17.5% 15.9% 15.9% 1
17 16.2% Bank of America 24.5% 21.7% 13.4% 10.2% 11.1% 2
18 14.6% Capital One 17.9% 16.8% 15.9% 12.1% 10.5% 3
19 13.1% Cash App 14.1% 12.0% 4
20 10.8% Wells Fargo 12.6% 13.5% 11.2% 8.1% 8.6% 5
21 9.8% USAA 10.8% 10.8% 9.8% 8.0% 9.8% 6
22 9.7% CitiBank 10.0% 11.4% 10.5% 7.8% 8.8% 7
23 8.3% Navy FCU 9.0% 7.6% 8.3% 8
24 7.9% Chime 7.7% 8.1% 7.8% 9
25 7.6% U.S. Bank 10.1% 11.0% 6.6% 4.9% 5.6% 10
26 7.5% Citizens Bank 7.0% 7.9% 11
27 5.9% PNC 6.7% 5.7% 5.2% 12
28 4.3% Ally 4.3% 13
29 3.9% Synchrony 3.9% 14

The report also sheds light on how different generations might respond to economic pressures. When asked about potential cutbacks due to increases in the cost of living, all generations listed “eating out” as their top category for reduction. However, Gen Z was significantly less likely to plan for cutbacks across most categories.


As Gen Z comes of age financially, they’re bringing with them a radically different set of attitudes, preferences and behaviors. From their optimism about wealth creation to their embrace of risk and new technologies, this generation is poised to reshape banking, not just digitally but behaviorally. The banks that can successfully bridge the generational divide, offering innovative solutions while maintaining trust and security, will be best positioned to thrive in this new era of banking. This may require significant investments in technology, a reimagining of product offerings and a shift in organizational culture to one that can keep pace with the rapid changes in consumer preferences.

Based on these findings, here are some potential strategies for banks to consider:

  • Develop products and services that support entrepreneurial ventures, such as specialized business loans or mentorship programs.
  • Create innovative savings products like high-yield savings accounts tied to specific goals or “startup savings accounts” with perks for future business ventures.
  • Offer themed ETFs focusing on areas of interest to younger investors, such as technology or sustainability.
  • Develop compelling native apps or partner with popular third-party apps to maintain customer relationships.
  • Consider creating separate, youth-focused sub-brands to compete more directly with fintech companies.
  • Explore acquiring or partnering with successful fintech startups to quickly gain access to their technology and customer base.

These suggestions are interpretations based on the report’s findings and are not directly stated in the original source.

Editor’s note: This article was prepared with AI language software and edited for clarity and accuracy by The Financial Brand editorial team.

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