40% of Americans Feel Excluded From the Finance Ecosystem – Here’s What Employers Can Do About It

Considering the number of banks and financial services apps in operation, it’s hard to imagine people being excluded, but millions remain underserved – and some aren’t served at all. According to a report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), more than 5% of U.S. households (approximately 7.1 million households) were unbanked in 2019. Bank status notwithstanding, an even more significant number of people are struggling to achieve financial wellbeing. The latest research surveyed 2,000 Americans across the U.S. and found that four in ten Americans feel excluded from the personal finance ecosystem.  

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When compared to respondents in three other notable markets – EMEA, APAC, and LATAM – U.S. respondents were the least confident that their children would “meet or exceed” their monetary success and most likely to respond that they were depressed by their current financial situation. Given these challenges and the ongoing concerns involving COVID-19, inflation, and market fluctuations, employers should take this opportunity to help their staff plot a path to financial security and prosperity. A good place to  start is to look at how their employees feel about their finances and the ways in which they currently struggle:  

Many People Feel Anxious and Overwhelmed  

It is not uncommon for people to have concerns about their financial situation, especially given the economic challenges that many have endured over the last year. Our research found that women experience this uneasiness most strongly, with more than half (56%) feeling anxious about their financial situation compared to less than two-fifths (38%) of men. This sentiment carries over to long-term perceptions of achieving financial solvency in one’s golden years, with 61% of men feeling confident that they’ll have enough saved for retirement versus 41% of women. Most women (55%) also feel that the deck is stacked against them and that access to wealth creation is often unfair.

Most Black respondents (57%) report feeling the same way. 

The Access to Reputable Information Is Uneven 

Few Americans have been given a proper financial education, with just 15% of respondents stating that they learned how to manage their money at school or through a course. This is slightly more common (19%) among individuals with a higher income, but the vast majority remain uneducated about personal finance in any income bracket.

In looking to improve their financial status, many Americans (18%) watch YouTube, and a quarter of Gen Z respondents rely on TikTok videos.

While there may be helpful insights to gain from others online, it would be impossible to verify the authenticity of every video or the accuracy of every tip shared. But at a time when many Americans feel they inherited their monetary behaviors – nearly half (48%) attribute their choices and current financial status to their upbringing – it’s hard to know where to turn. What’s more, nearly one-fifth (21%) of Americans say they did not have anyone in their lives who could teach them how to manage their money. People are incredibly reliant on their parents and family for financial support and education, mimicking family money habits and behaviors. Without intervention, it’s our heritage that dictates our financial paths, and entry to our own cycle of exclusion.

 Financial Advice Is Currently an Afterthought  

With potentially unreliable help at home and unverified advice from content creators, it may appear that many Americans will continue to endure these financial challenges for the foreseeable future. But there is another party that can make a difference: employers. As the provider of the lion’s share of an individual’s income, employers already play a significant role in the finances of most Americans.

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Employers have the potential to offer crucial support and tools in this area, but are they?

And if not, what actions should they take?

Despite the many ways that employers are involved in their employees’ finances – compensation, healthcare, and other perks – most Americans (52%) don’t receive personal financial education related to their circumstances and interests as an employee benefit. Some top employers are already helping their people maximize financial opportunities, overcome financial problems and make managing money stress-free, but there is a divide here as well. 

Much like the gap in sentiment and anxiety, more than half of American males say their employer initiates regular communication about how to improve their financial wellbeing, compared to just 39% of females. Twenty percent of male respondents have been provided with “employer-supported financial counseling or courses,” as opposed to only 9% of female respondents. All told, three-fifths (60%) of Midwest employees say their employers do not regularly communicate with them about improving their financial wellbeing.  

This lack of communication shows that many employers miss out on an opportunity to better connect with and support their employees.

Even if they did, nearly one-third (28%) wouldn’t know how to personalize their financial advice because they are unaware of the significance that their employees’ salaries play at home.

Are they supporting a spouse, kids, or other relatives? Do they have aging parents that they support?

All of these aspects need to be factored in, but the lack of awareness holds employers back – and it’s even higher (36%) among employers of low-income workers. Employees can’t overcome these challenges on their own, but their employers can make a difference with the right tools, support, and more frequent communication. 

Bridge the Gap in Financial Support and Education  

Organizations need to take the time to learn more about their workers, especially the financial aspirations that are most important to them. For example, most Americans are focused on having enough money to pay their bills and pay off their debt in order to retire early. This varies greatly from respondents in APAC, who were more likely to want money for leisure, dream weddings, and to send their children to private school. By better understanding their employees – what they want and need from their finances and how they plan to achieve it – employers can better understand what’s missing from the equation. This information will empower employers to select the necessary tools to help guide their staff through their current and future financial challenges. 


While parents are limited by their own financial understanding in how they teach their children and schools have bureaucratic constraints, employers have a critical opportunity to act in this space. As the provider of the lion’s share of an individual’s income, employers have the potential to offer crucial support and tools in this area. Seizing on this opportunity to fill the financial wellbeing gap with a benefits package that helps a company’s workforce become more financially fit will pay huge dividends with more productive, engaged, and loyal employees.