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Survey: Generation Z and Millennials Lead the Way as Financial Progress, Security and Confidence Increase

Younger Americans make large strides on key personal finance indicators, according to latest BMO Real Financial Progress Index results


CHICAGO, May 13, 2021 /CNW/ - As the U.S. begins to emerge from the pandemic, Americans feel more positive about personal finances, with younger Americans leading that increased optimism, according to the latest BMO Real Financial Progress Index, a quarterly measurement of consumer sentiment about money. The survey saw an increase in the number of consumers who agree they are making real financial progress (50% in April 2021 vs. 46% in January 2021) and half of Americans (51%) believe they are more financially secure now than last year. In particular, Gen Z adults (ages 18-24) and younger millennials (ages 25-34) feel more financially secure now than last year (65% and 68%, respectively).

These findings are from the latest BMO Real Financial Progress Index, conducted by Ipsos. The national survey sampled adults aged 18+ in the U.S. from April 1 to 20, 2021. 

Millennials and Gen Z Lead in Financial Confidence, Security and Progress (Millennials and Gen Z Feel More Financially Confident and Secure)

Americans ages 18-34 feel decidedly more upbeat about their financial situations, showing large strides since January.

  • Increased Security: 65% of Gen Z and 68% of millennials say they feel more financially secure today than a year ago, compared to 46% and 59% respectively in January, representing the largest increases of any age group.
  • High Confidence and Optimism: 80% of Gen Z and 82% of millennials say they are confident in their financial situation right now, compared to 64% and 76% respectively in January. Moreover 80% of Gen Z and 84% of millennials say they are optimistic about their financial futures right now.
  • Decreased Anxiety: For Gen Z, anxiety about one's overall financial situation dropped seven points from January to 50%. For millennials, financial anxiety is 49%, which is down five points since January.

While both Gen Z and millennials are taking steps to take control of their finances and make real financial progress, millennials are seeing larger increases in sentiment since the beginning of the year:

  • Making Financial Progress: 45% of Gen Z and 58% of millennials agree that they are making real financial progress, compared to 42% and 50% respectively in January.
  • Enough Savings for an Emergency: 62% of Gen Z and 73% of millennials agree that they have enough savings to get through an unexpected emergency, compared to 55% and 62% respectively in January.
  • Taking Steps to Improve Their Financial Situation: 80% of Gen Z and 84% of millennials say they actively take steps to improve their financial situation, compared to 72% and 76% respectively in January.

"After the tumultuous year many have had financially, it's encouraging to see things trending in the right direction. It's an important economic indicator that consumers feel more secure and that they are taking the necessary actions to help them make more financial progress," said Paul Dilda, head of consumer strategy for BMO Harris Bank. "It's all about achieving a balance between indulging today and saving for tomorrow, and it's encouraging to see younger adults – especially in the last few months – setting and maintaining good financial habits that will set them up for success in the future."

Planning for the Future Starts Today
Now is the time for consumers to double down and focus on sustaining the progress they've made. This includes setting or reevaluating financial goals, talking with people they trust, and taking advantage of the programs and educational resources that banks offer.

"Your bank is a good starting place to ensure you have the right tools in your financial tool belt – they should be helping you get and stay ahead financially," said Dilda. "As financial security and confidence continue to increase, banks will be able to guide consumers on what programs and rates are available to help them capitalize on and continue the good habits they've developed." 

BMO offers a wide range of personal banking products and solutions to help customers make real financial progress toward their goals, whether building an emergency fund, making a major purchase, saving for a vacation, or putting money away for retirement.

About the BMO Real Financial Progress Index
Launched in February 2021, the BMO Real Financial Progress Index is an indicator of how consumers feel about their personal finances and whether they are making financial progress. The index aims to spark dialogue that will help consumers reach their financial goals and to humanize a topic that causes anxiety for many – money.

The research detailed in this document was conducted by Ipsos in the U.S. from Apr. 1 to 20, 2021. A sample of n=2,503 adults ages 18+ in the U.S. were collected this wave. Wave one data was fielded from Jan. 4 to 19, 2021 with a sample of n=2,509 adults ages 18+ in the U.S. collected. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. population according to census parameters.

For more information on how BMO's products and services can help consumers make real financial progress, visit

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 500 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$973 billion as of Jan. 31, 2021.

SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

For further information: Media contact: Kathleen Szot, BMO Harris Bank, Chicago,, (312) 881-0388