Savings and Investment Lag but Appetite for Financial Knowledge Exists
Social Security is not enough. Anyone currently living on a monthly Social Security check can attest to that. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t fully grasp that reality until they reach retirement age. This problem is even more pronounced in the Hispanic community, which lags other groups in retirement savings. ThinkNow recently conducted research for the Hispanic Marketing Council’s 2022 Virtual Summit on Hispanic attitudes towards saving and investing and found key areas of concern and opportunities where the public sector and financial services companies can step in to help.
Hispanics are very optimistic, and this serves them well in most cases. But retirement savings is not one of them. Many Hispanics believe their family will be able to support them in retirement. They are the least likely group to say that being a burden on their family is a primary reason for retirement savings. This reliance on family support may contribute to a lower prioritization of retirement savings accounts. In fact, our research found that Hispanics were less likely to have all types of savings accounts than non-Hispanics and are 44% less likely to have an IRA than non-Hispanics.
Another factor influencing lower savings rates among Hispanics is the financial strain of living expenses. Younger Hispanics are also saddled with higher levels of student debt than non-Hispanic White or Asian American students.
The financial strain Hispanics are under is real, but there is reason to hope. Hispanics are more likely to seek out financial information than other groups. They especially lean on banks and online sources such as YouTube.
Banks are uniquely positioned to help since they’re the source Hispanics look most to for financial guidance. The FDIC developed the Money Smart program to help teach financial literacy, and some banks have trained their staff to share this information with their clients. Savvy financial institutions realize that helping their customers build wealth is also good for business.
Another key finding in our study was that Hispanics are interested in investing if given the opportunity. While only 10% have individual stock trading accounts, 35% would choose stocks when asked to allocate $1,000 across various investment options. Some stock trading services such as Robinhood and SoFi have attracted Hispanic and Black traders, but the jury is still out as to whether the platforms' short-term trading is leading to long-term wealth building.
Ownership of digital assets like cryptocurrency and NFTs were the only area where Hispanics over-indexed other groups. Age is the primary driver. Digital assets are more commonly held by younger individuals, and Hispanics are, on average, ten years younger than the overall U.S. population.
Cryptocurrencies are more volatile than other forms of investment. Their value as long-term assets is unproven, so reliance on this type of investment for Hispanics may prove problematic.
California recently implemented mandatory retirement savings accounts for all businesses with five or more employees. Businesses that don’t have a retirement savings account in place must have one by June 30th, 2022 or enroll their employees into a new State plan called CalSavers and deposit 5% of their pay into an IRA. What’s nice about CalSavers is that employees opt into the program unless they specifically opt-out. Unlike a 401K, which is employer-based, CalSavers IRAs will follow workers when they change jobs, so there’s no need to transfer the funds when that happens. This is a positive development because California has the country's largest population of Hispanics, so the likelihood that we’ll see an increase in Hispanic retirement accounts is high.
Student loan forgiveness would also disproportionately help Hispanics. The Biden Administration appears ready to enact some form of loan forgiveness by executive action. Reducing the burden of student loan repayment will open up funds for young Hispanics to be able to start funding their retirements.
The future of the U.S. is multicultural. One hundred percent of the population growth recorded in the 2020 Census came from multicultural Americans, and Hispanics are the largest segment of the multicultural market. Providing the financial literacy education they desire and improving their ability to save will increase the chances that they’ll be able to retire successfully, which pays dividends for them as a group and for the country as a whole.