Cyber generation highly risk-conscious - Association of German Banks' 2015 Youth Survey
“Digitisation is an absolutely positive issue among young people: nearly two-thirds of 14 to 20-year-olds see the internet and digitisation as largely bringing benefits for society in general, and fully 85% feel they benefit personally”, says Michael Kemmer, General Manager of the Association of German Banks, presenting the latest Youth Survey. This doesn’t mean, however, that teenagers and young adults have a care-free attitude towards using the internet, for, according to Mr Kemmer, another finding of the representative survey is that “6 out of 10 young respondents (63%) have an “uneasy feeling” when they have to provide personal details on the Web.”
“So young people are well aware of the risk of misuse of their data”, Mr Kemmer adds. Nine out of ten respondents consequently feel that the security of their personal data on the Web is “very important” (63%) or at least “important” (28%). A sign of the growing importance of digitisation in banking is the finding that young people now cite “safe online banking” (53%) more often than proximity to their local branch (43%) as a very important criterion for choosing their bank. Mr Kemmer: “This shows in what direction banks will have to move. A lot of contacts with customers are already digital today, and this will be even more the case in the future. But this doesn’t mean that bank branches will completely disappear.” Even among the 14 to 20-year-olds, more than half (56%) say they still visit their bank branch or its self-service area at least once a month.
For Mr Kemmer, it is encouraging that young people’s interest in economic affairs has increased again over the past few years. Around two-thirds (67%) of teenagers and young adults now find economic news and information important or very important. In 2012, the figure was only just over half of respondents. “At the time, we were seriously feeling the fallout from the financial crisis. The complex problems involved, ones that many found difficult to understand, scared off a lot of young people from economic and financial issues”, Mr Kemmer explains.
Though young people’s economic literacy has improved significantly in the meantime, it still contains some glaring gaps. For example, an Association of German Banks index based on seven questions reveals that four out of ten respondents (39%) score poorly or even very poorly here.
Mr Kemmer therefore finds it both right and important that the great majority of teenagers and young adults (81%) themselves want “more economics in the classroom” and economics as a separate school subject (73%). “The Association of German Banks has been campaigning for such a subject for almost 30 years. While some federal states have taken steps in the right direction, the introduction of economics as a mandatory school subject throughout the country is unfortunately still not yet in sight”, says Mr Kemmer.
At the same time, an economic education is, he feels, becoming more and more important: “Young people have to be properly equipped to make their financial decisions as “responsible citizens” and as bank customers.” For only people who understand what goes on around them economically every day can shape their lives independently and make sensible consumption and investment choices.
For this reason, the Association of German Banks’ survey also examined the financial culture and financial behaviour of the young generation. An important finding: young people like looking after their money, but they tend to do so spontaneously and sporadically. Two-thirds (65%) say they enjoy taking care of their finances.
And, despite low interest rates, young people are keen savers who regularly set aside quite sizeable amounts within their personal budget limits. More than half (53%) save regularly, a further third (32%) sporadically, i.e. “now and again”. The 21 to 24-year-olds save an average of € 236 every month, with the 14 to 17-year-olds saving € 36 on average over the same period. “They do so despite the fact that in the current period of historically low interest rates many are sceptical about whether saving is really still worthwhile.”
The current Youth Survey on digitisation, economic literacy and financial culture was conducted by GfK Marktforschung on behalf of the Association of German Banks. It is based on a representative sample of 651 14 to 24-year-olds living in Germany who were interviewed by telephone at the beginning of June 2015.
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