Mercator Blog

U.S. Consumers Are More Likely to Save Up for Specific Goals
Date: May 23, 2018
Karen Augustine
Manager, Primary Data Services
Managing one’s personal finances can be daunting no matter one’s income level, and saving up for a special life event, a new home, and even retirement is a challenge. Many consumers recognize that they need to develop a way to optimize their savings by using financial management tools, budgeting, and advice to gain support. That may explain why more U.S. consumers are taking advantage of financial tools to aid their personal financial planning and want support services from their FI to do so, as the 2017 Banking and Channels survey in Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor Survey Series (CMSS) found. Financial institutions (FIs) can forge deeper customer relationships if they take advantage of banking customers’ need for financial advice and budgeting. Today, a host of tools is available to analyze personal spending habits, assist in financial management, and support household budgeting, yet precious few teach individuals how to reach their financial goals. Financial institutions are beginning to offer personal financial management (PFM) tools to support these efforts. But many consumers need to formulate a financial plan that includes automated savings and investment opportunities and personalized help to take advantage of those opportunities.

The 2017 CMSS Banking and Channels survey on personal finance focuses on U.S. consumers’ use of financial advisors and their need for financial advice from their primary financial institutions, particularly among the segments of the banking customer base that are of high value to banks, credit unions, and other FIs—young adults, business owners, and those who have wealth management relationships with FIs. This study identifies the demographics of the U.S. consumers most interested in financial advice from their respective financial institutions—namely young adults, high-income earners, business owners, and consumers who consider themselves to have wealth management accounts or relationships with their primary FI.

In the report, Consumers and Personal Finance: Advice and Tools Breed Engagement, Mercator also discusses the ways in which consumers use personal financial management, or PFM, tools, adhere to a budget, and set aside savings to meet their financial goals and interest in financial advice from their FI and services to support their financial health. We also evaluate how U.S. consumers communicate with their FIs, the types of banking activities they perform online and by mobile, as well as their use of online account opening and interest in personalization. The findings highlight ways in which FIs can enhance the customer experience with services to meet customers’ expectations and support their financial goals to breed greater engagement.