Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Financial Needs of Gen X market, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Gen X is often referred to as the “forgotten” generation – not nearly as flashy as Millennials or Gen X, and not as famous as Boomers. These adults, aged 45-56, comprise 15% of the US population, and are a demographic worth watching. Gen X households tend to have higher than average household incomes, but they are strapped with both saving for retirement and potentially paying the high costs of raising children or caring for aging parents.

COVID-19 has upended some Gen X families’ savings, and it has made them stressed about debt and maintaining their employment. These adults are looking for way to help provide for their families as well as remain financially secure into the future as they become empty nesters.

The economic uncertainty of the pandemic has caused 40% of Gen X adults to worry about losing their job within the next 6 months. Currently fewer than half of Gen Xers save money for retirement on a monthly basis, with just over 50% of these saving extra money left at the end of the month when they have it.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our US Financial Services market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on Generation X consumers and their finances.
  • Financial priorities for Gen X households.
  • Financial behaviors of Gen X consumers.
  • Gen X attitudes toward their finances and debt.
  • Gen X financial planning.

Covered in this report

Brands: Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Betterment, Fidelity, Robinhood.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Jennifer White Boehm, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Gen Xers are at an age where they do not expect much to change in their lives – they have steady jobs, their family may be complete, and they most likely own property. COVID-19 has thrown them, in addition to other generations, for quite the loop. They were concentrating on saving for retirement or higher education costs, but now they are worried about the potential to dip into their savings or lose their job if the current economic situation does not improve. Financial services companies have the opportunity to reach out and offer sound financial advice, and straightforward products, to help them navigate this uncertainty.
Jennifer White Boehm
Associate Director, Finance Reports

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways: what Gen X consumers want from their finances
    • Target audience overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on the financial needs of Gen X
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on Generation X adults and their financial needs, November 2020
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Gen X will have to learn to adapt
    • Gen X adults need to combine sound financial advice with actual habits
    • COVID-19’s effect will be felt more strongly on lower-income Gen X families
  3. Target Audience – Key Takeaways

    • 50 million adults with high incomes and growing net worth
    • Gen Xers are almost empty nesters
    • Gen Xers are eventual technology adopters
  4. Gen X by the Numbers

    • A 50-million-person sandwich
      • Figure 2: US population by generation and age, 2020
    • A highly educated generation
      • Figure 3: Educational attainment, by age, 2019
    • Declining homeownership rates, but new opportunities
      • Figure 4: Home ownership rates for the US, by age of householder, 1982-2019
    • Two thirds are married, yet divorce exists
      • Figure 5: Marital status, by age, 2019
    • Gen Xers nearing empty nester phase
      • Figure 6: Family households, by age of own children and age of householder, 2019
    • Generation X is a more affluent generation
      • Figure 7: Median total household income in 2018, by age of householder
    • Gen X net worth is on the rise
      • Figure 8: Median household net worth in 2016 dollars, 2007, 2010, 2016
    • Gen Xers are eventual adopters
      • Figure 9: Social media platforms used at least once per week, by generation, June 2020
  5. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Could Robinhood be next for eventual adopting Gen Xers?
    • Charles Schwab becomes leader after merger
    • New technology increased financial access
  6. Companies and Brands

    • Trading app popularity explodes among Millennials – Gen X next?
    • Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade consolidate
    • Rise of robo-advisors and low-fee planning
  7. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Gen Xers are settled in their ways
    • Security, family and retirement top Gen X concerns
    • Financial priorities are determined by income
    • There is a need for alignment of words with actions
    • Gen Xers could use more help from financial advisors
    • Financial worries increase after COVID-19
    • Gen X debt borne of necessity over luxury
  8. Major Life Changes

    • Gen Xers have largely settled into their circumstances
      • Figure 10: Expected life changes in next year, Gen X, July 2020
    • Gen X less likely to see new job or expect promotion
      • Figure 11: Expected life changes in the next year, by generation, July 2020
  9. Financial Incentives

    • Security, family and retirement top Gen X concerns
      • Figure 12: Gen X financial incentives, July 2020
    • Gen X is more concerned with building a nest egg
      • Figure 13: Retirement as incentive, by generation, July 2020
    • Not just looking to the future, making ends meet is another concern
      • Figure 14: Making ends meet as financial incentive, by generation, July 2020
  10. Financial Priorities

    • Saving for retirement and paying bills are top priorities
      • Figure 15: Gen X financial priorities, ranked, July 2020
    • Financial priorities determined by income
      • Figure 16: Top financial priorities, by age and income, July 2020
  11. Financial Behaviors

    • Not all Gen Xers’ behavior is consistent with their goals
      • Figure 17: Gen X financial habits, July 2020
    • Financial habits of Gen X not improved over younger generations
      • Figure 18: Financial habits, by generation, July 2020
    • 401(k) and monthly retirement savings are largely determined by income
      • Figure 19: Financial habits, by age and income, July 2020
  12. Financial Satisfaction

    • Gen Xers could use more help from financial advisors
      • Figure 20: Gen X financial satisfaction, July 2020
    • Gen Xers are less satisfied with their finances than Millennials
      • Figure 21: Financial satisfaction, by generation, July 2020
    • New access for less affluent to reach financial advisors
      • Figure 22: Consultation of professional financial advisor, by age and income, July 2020
  13. Impact of COVID-19

    • Financial worries increase due to COVID-19 pandemic
      • Figure 23: Impact of COVID-19 on Gen X, July 2020
    • COVID-19 has more significant impact on less affluent
      • Figure 24: Impact of COVID-19, by age and income, July 2020
  14. Attitudes and Behaviors toward Debt

    • Debt is a source of stress for a quarter of Gen Xers
      • Figure 25: Gen X attitudes toward debt and saving, July 2020
    • Gen X debt borne of necessity over luxury
      • Figure 26: Debt accumulation to keep up with friends, by generation, July 2020
    • There is an opportunity to help them refinance with personal loans
      • Figure 27: Attitudes towards debt and refinancing, by age and income, July 2020
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations

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