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Social Media Making Inroads as Financial Decisionmaking Resource

Social Media

Like it or not, social media platforms, as well as financial technology, are steadily becoming more favorable resources for Americans to make financial decisions, according to a recent survey. 

While financial services providers’ online tools are the most trusted resource for information (at 63%), one in five survey respondents to TIAA’s Digital Engagement Survey say social media content is a go-to resource. A third say they trust social media content to help them make financial decisions, while 32% say they trust social media influencers and celebrities’ financial advice. 

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults also found that respondents are open to using new devices to manage their finances. Home voice assistants (42%), smartwatches (43%) or a chatbot on a financial provider’s website (44%) are tools they feel comfortable using to manage their finances. That said, many still prefer using desktop computers (39%) to manage their finances, including for their retirement plans and bank account balances, despite their openness and comfort with utilizing new technologies.

Additional findings show that about 3 in 10 (29%) are interested in using digital tools from a financial services provider that aggregates and tracks their information across all their accounts and investments. A third of respondents say they already use digital tools from their financial provider to track financial information across accounts. 

And while Americans are utilizing more technology like video calls and contactless payments in their daily lives, they are split on whether this will impact their finances in a post-pandemic environment. For those who work with a financial advisor, half prefer interacting over the phone to utilizing video calls (25%). One in five respondents also say they don’t anticipate connecting with their financial provider as often via mobile app or over the phone after the COVID-19 pandemic unless they need to address an account or investment concern.

Managing Finances

The survey also found that the pandemic has affected how Americans manage their finances, with significant generational differences. According to the findings, 71% of those under age 65 have changed how they manage their finances, compared with only half of those over 65. 

Of the generations, Millennials—especially men—are spending the most time managing their finances. Overall, TIAA found that half of Americans spend less than an hour a week on their finances, yet 39% of Millennials say they spend four or more hours a week managing theirs, compared with just 25% of Gen Zers and only 7% of Baby Boomers. The survey also found that men are nearly twice as likely as women to spend four hours or more a week on their personal finances (30% versus 16%).

Younger generations are also more interested in getting a financial wellness checkup. More than half of respondents under age 65 say they are interested, compared with just 30% of those over 65. The most preferred method of meeting for a financial wellness checkup is in person, at 26%.

“In today’s attention economy, many people are turning to tools and resources beyond their providers for information on how to manage their finances,” says John Elton, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for TIAA Bank. “Financial services firms are in a unique position and need to offer high-tech and high-touch tools across platforms to meet all generations where they are—whether it’s online or in-person—to ensure we’re helping them recover financially from the pandemic.”