Thorunn Egilsdottir
Corporate Communication Manager
15th February 2023

Gen Z and how they bank?

Generation Z was born after 1996, and is therefore the first generation that has never known a world without the Internet. They are stereotyped as “social warriors”, addicted to technology. According to various studies, Generation Z is more pragmatic, cautious, skeptical, responsible, globally aware and money-conscious than their predecessors, the Millennials. We spoke to Mary-Anna Eon at EY, who told us more about this new generation that is reshaping the world.

1. Can you describe a typical young person from Generation Z?

We are digital junkies: a phone in our hand, headphones in our ears, a laptop in our bag. We are an online generation, a generation that has had access to a plethora of information from a very young age, and maybe too much. Above all, we are a generation that has grown up in an unstable and stressed world that is seeing rapid and sometimes brutal change.

That could be said of all generations, but this level of volatility and this access to information have led us to search deeply for stability and alignment with our values.

In search of our truth, we are a generation that looks for minimalist interaction with the world around us in the midst of over-stimulation. Even though it is possible for us to do everything, to travel the world, to live 1.000 experiences, Generation Z has difficulty making choices. We are looking for authenticity, simplicity, the right direction, the dream to pursue, but not managing to find our way in the midst of society’s rush, rush, rush and the abundance of available choices.

Our generation is also one of the first to have been taught about social and environmental responsibility (sorting our waste, buying organic and seasonal produce, fast-fashion scandals, gender equality, etc.). We are probably far more aware of these issues. We and the Millennials are the committed generations. This is reflected in the fact that over 90% of both generations combined aim to achieve sustainability in their life goals.

Finally, to sum up, a typical Generation Z young person is a young adult in search of truth and simplicity. Their quest for meaning leads them to think differently, to rethink their interactions and to create a real impact on society and traditional ways of thinking.

2. How do young people from Generation Z make their purchasing decisions, and how do they spend their money?

I believe we are a generation that consumes differently to our predecessors.

Our purchasing decisions are more impulsive - just as we see something and “like” it on social media, so we see something in real life and we buy it. Most of our purchases are made online, instantaneously, and this changes our relationship with money. It is easy to consume. So even though we have budget constraints, it is easy to compare and buy immediately.

There is also the question of trends. The emergence of social media has made it possible to promote current fashions and to make them a “must-have” if you’re going to integrate and be part of the community, in our generation. On the other hand, we are also looking for originality, looking to be different. There is a search for individuality in the collectivism of consumption.

This is perhaps also a characteristic of the environment in which I move, but there is a tendency towards more responsible consumption, buying second-hand goods, repairing things, avoiding fast fashion, and investing in better quality items, even if it sometimes means paying more and consuming less.

Our generation is also more open to the world. We travel more, we study abroad and sometimes we even start our careers abroad. This trend is becoming more and more widespread among Generation Z. Experiencing new places is important. Interaction with the world that directly surrounds us, with our friends and family, is also a priority. For all that, the quality of our relationships is different: they are more superficial, more remote, and certainly more transient. It is now rare for someone to spend their whole life in the same town.

To sum up, I think that we are a generation in contradiction, full of paradoxes. Our consumption decisions are just the tip of the iceberg. Consuming more but always for less. Consuming better but sometimes more expensive. Consuming like everyone else but asserting our individuality. Opening up to the world but being mindful of creating a home. Looking for authenticity but preferring solitude.

3. How does Generation Z perform banking transactions?

We carry out our banking transactions digitally. We are minimalist and connected. Efficiency has to be the watchword to meet the demands of our generation. Like the content that we consume online, everything must be simple, with little text, eye-catching content and smooth navigation. Being able to view these accounts from your phone is essential for this generation who have their phones close by all the time.

It’s also a question of speed. Generation Z does not have much patience. Because we are used to having such quick access to information and content, we expect the same speed in our banking relationships. This is part of the impulsiveness that I mentioned earlier. Transfers have to be quick, and transactions have to be easy. It’s no longer a question of going via an intermediary to make a transfer. Even payments have to be fast. I can pay using my phone in two seconds. I can view all my expenditure on my bank account, on the go.

Another crucial point is the question of bank charges. Other generations were willing to pay bank charges, but Generation Z isn’t so keen. Paying fees to make a transfer, paying for a bank card, paying when you travel abroad... All these fees seem to be unnecessary as we know there are “free” alternatives out there.

Finally, even though we are looking for a seamless digital experience, we also want high-quality human interactions. When we talk to a financial advisor, we expect a human discussion, with someone who will listen to us and understand our needs, and give us accurate and transparent information.

4. How can Generation Z influence the future of banking?

Generation Z has already redefined the meaning of modern banking. The bank created by this generation is:

  • an increasingly digital and automated bank. It is no longer a question of wasting time with calls to an advisor, or having to get impatient with slow mobile applications with 1.000 pop-ups, or waiting a week to see your application processed. The bank of tomorrow is a bank that lives at the pace of a fast-moving generation.

  • a bank that is even more close to its customers. The customer experience must be adapted to the individual. A personalised service is essential. The customer is no longer just an account number - they are a person with their own particular needs. Assertion of identity also involves the bank (types, personalisation of content, etc.).

  • a bank that is transparent and aligned to our values. Trust in the bank is essential, which is why this generation is more independent. Control of costs, information and banking procedures allows people to be confident and to be able to trust. The bank must offer products and services that are in line with the values and ambitions of this young generation.

5. What are your five top tips for young zoomers who want to buy a house and save for the future?

5 useful tips: 

1. If you want to buy a property, there’s only one thing to keep in mind: location, location, location. Buying for buying’s sake makes no sense at all. The neighbourhood, the surrounding real estate projects that will develop over the next few years, the attractiveness of the location...all these criteria are relevant to the location and they’re all crucial.

2. Knowing yourself is the most important thing. Having a plan means being able to look ahead, and invest according to your needs. Being a homeowner, wanting to save for a family later on, starting a business, travelling the world... Life plans are personal. Only you can decide in what and how you want to invest your time, energy and money.

3. It is never too late to start saving and investing. EUR 100 per month is EUR 1.200 per year and in 20 years you’ve already saved EUR 24.000. It’s a simple question of regularity. Saving is just a matter of habit.

4. Diversification. There’s no point in putting all your eggs in one basket. To ensure maximum stability, it is important to diversify your investments so that you don’t risk losing everything in the future.

5. Invest in what you believe in. Invest in the world of the future that you want to live in. Each person has different values. Make sure that your investments represent who you are. Moderate risk, responsible and sustainable investment, ambitious companies, etc. You have the option to make a difference to the world of tomorrow, so make it according to your values.

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