Study shows Americans overestimate their financial knowledge, many are open to more education

Financial planning and retirement topics interest all age and income segments

SCHAUMBURG, IL (June 14, 2018) — Recent research from Raddon®, a Fiserv company, reveals that Americans are generally overconfident in their financial acumen and the vast majority have never attended a financial education program, although many think such a program would be extremely or very valuable.

The “Financial Literacy: Prosperity Begins with Knowledge” study from Raddon, a provider of innovative research, insightful analysis and strategic guidance to banks and credit unions, explores consumer perceptions of their financial acumen versus the reality of their knowledge, as well as the impact of financial programs on consumers’ relationships with their financial institutions.

While nearly half of study respondents (44 percent) self-report that they are extremely or very financially literate, when asked to take a financial quiz, fewer than half achieved a passing score, and only 6 percent scored an “A” grade of 90 percent or better. Given these findings, and the fact that 84 percent of U.S. consumers have not attended a financial literacy program, there is significant opportunity for financial institutions to help grow their customers’ financial knowledge.

“Financial institutions have a powerful role to play in developing financial literacy today,” said David Irwin, president, Raddon. “A majority of customers who participate in a financial education program find value, and in a market that is intensely experience and relationship driven, providing financial education can help institutions to stand out and build depth with their customers. Closing the gap between customer perceptions of their own financial literacy and reality will help them develop the skills to build financial health.”

Generational considerations are also important. In general, financial literacy improves with age and income, as does reported financial confidence. A notable exception in the survey are members of Generation X, who exhibit less confidence in their financial literacy than millennials, perhaps due to their life stage during the dot-com bust of the early 2000s and the 2008 recession. The impact of these events personally and professionally sets them apart from the rest of the study respondents in that they are less likely to be overconfident about their financial knowledge, and their financial goals are more likely aimed at recovery and stability than other generations

Understanding current consumer attitudes toward financial literacy is key to the success of financial education efforts. For example, more than half of consumers (51 percent) feel understanding financial concepts and financial products is required only on a need-to-know basis, or if they are in need of a certain financial product.

This means that education efforts should be focused on the most impactful areas, including money management, retirement and investments. Over a third of respondents (38 percent) said this type of financial literacy program would be extremely or very valuable, with higher numbers among millennials (55 percent) and major bank customers (47 percent). Those who said they had attended a financial literacy program scored higher on the Raddon financial quiz, indicating positive impact. In addition, 18 percent said that such a program would influence their decision to bring more business to the institution hosting the program.

“Imagine the benefits for both customers and institutions if this model played out,” said Irwin. “Banks and credit unions can provide the insights their customers need to thrive, and their customers’ financial success will in turn lead to deeper financial institution relationships.”

Practical suggestions for financial institutions are to offer educational programs for consumers at a younger age, create programming with wide appeal and make programs ongoing to help people to build on their knowledge.

The research data was compiled from 1,200 online surveys completed during fall 2017 from a randomly drawn sample of a nationally representative online survey panel of U.S. adults ages 18 and older. A preview of the study is available at and a Raddon Report blog post highlighting key findings is at

About Raddon

Raddon, a Fiserv company, has been providing financial institutions with research-based solutions since 1983. Raddon works exclusively with financial institutions and has a unique understanding of the industry, resulting in the ability to apply practical know-how to the challenges and opportunities financial institutions face. Raddon combines best practices in research and analysis with consulting and technology solutions to help institutions achieve sustainable growth and improve financial performance.

About Fiserv

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) enables clients worldwide to create and deliver financial services experiences in step with the way people live and work today. For more than 30 years, Fiserv has been a trusted leader in financial services technology, helping clients achieve best-in-class results by driving quality and innovation in payments, processing services, risk and compliance, customer and channel management, and insights and optimization. Fiserv is a member of the FORTUNE® 500 and has been named among the FORTUNE Magazine World’s Most Admired Companies® for five consecutive years, recognized for strength of business model and innovation leadership. For more information, visit


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