WSFS Bank Study Finds Americans Are Confident About Achieving Their Financial Goals

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Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) feel confident they will achieve their financial goals, according to a new WSFS Bank survey. However, two-in-five (39 percent) said they’re not confident they can keep pace with inflation’s impact on goods and services, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) say having poor credit prevents them from using financial products and services, underscoring the challenges consumers currently face when managing their money. 

The study, which surveyed 1,500 consumers nationally and 1,750 in the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region, gauged the financial goals, confidence, and access of those 18 years and older.

Financial Goals

Top of mind for nearly half of all respondents (49 percent) is the need to build emergency funds for themselves and their families, compared with 54 percent regionally. Three-quarters of national respondents (76 percent) said they were somewhat or very confident they would be able to achieve this goal, with 72 percent of regional respondents feeling the same.

“The impacts of inflation are being felt by many consumers, which can also hamper goals to build savings and emergency funds, purchase a home and more,” said Vernita Dorsey, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Strategy at WSFS Bank. “While it could be getting difficult to save, it is still a key way to protect yourself from the changing economic and social economic influences around us. Consider opening a money market or higher interest-bearing account for your savings, shopping for bargains and re-evaluating your budget regularly to cut unneeded expenses, and if you need help reach out to your local banker or a financial advisor.”

Black respondents (51 percent) were more likely to cite improving their credit score as a goal than total respondents (41 percent), with 90 percent of Black respondents saying they feel confident they will achieve it. Meanwhile, more Hispanic respondents (36 percent) cited buying/affording a home or apartment as a goal than total respondents (26 percent), with 68 percent of Hispanic respondents saying they are confident they will achieve it.

“Financial goals vary by each individual, but are vital in forming a roadmap to success,” said Dorsey. “Whether you’re just starting on your financial journey or well on your way, it is important to set goals and put a plan in place to help you reach the finish line. It is also just as important that all members of our community have equal access to the products and services needed to build confidence and achieve their goals.”

Financial Access and Confidence

While the study found that 83 percent nationwide feel financial products from traditional financial institutions are accessible to them, there are still obstacles to overcome for many respondents.

Among the challenges, 32 percent cited high costs and fees, and nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said having poor credit is a reason they may not be using financial products and services from traditional financial institutions.

“Building and maintaining a strong credit score, generally one above 700, can be key to achieving your financial goals, as it can impact the rate offerings for your mortgage, loans, and more,” said Dorsey. “If you find your score still needs work, start by paying down loans and credit with the highest interest rates and try to get your debt-to-credit ratio below 30 percent to avoid negatively impacting your score. Checking your credit report from the major credit bureaus periodically can also help identify inaccuracies or even fraudulent items that could be bringing your score down.”

Most respondents (82 percent) said they were confident managing their money in general, but nearly three-in-10 (29 percent) have trouble understanding the financial products available to them, with 28 percent saying they are not confident knowing which products are best for them.

“We strive to assist Customers with navigating the various financial tools out there through advisors, workshops, lessons and resources,” said Dr. Michelle Burroughs, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at WSFS Bank. “Knowledge is power, but having the proper access to banking services is just as important. It is our goal to provide resources for Customers with diverse needs and backgrounds to receive the support they need to achieve financial success. For example, programs like the WSFS Neighborhood Opportunity Program can help home seekers achieve their dream.”

Personalized Advice and Services

Banks and financial service providers (32 percent) were second on the list of sources people lean on for money management skills behind parents and guardians (48 percent). Sixty percent said they use online banking and nearly as many use their bank’s mobile app (54 percent) to help them manage their finances, but many are still searching for more help in their financial journey.

Black (53 percent) and Hispanic (52 percent) respondents nationwide were more likely to agree that financial institutions have in mind what is best for them compared to White (41 percent) and non-Hispanic (42 percent) respondents. Regionally, 44 percent of Black and 43 percent of Hispanic respondents agreed with this statement as compared to 35 percent of White and 35 percent of non-Hispanic respondents.

Nearly three-in-five (58 percent) of both national and regional respondents agree that financial institutions offer them useful products and services, but more want free financial advice (35 percent nationally, 39 percent regionally) and believe tools tailored to their needs (31 percent nationally, 33 percent regionally) could help them reach their goals.

“Each consumers’ financial journey is unique, but it is vital to ask for guidance along the way and tap into the resources available to help build financial confidence,” said Dr. Burroughs. “Saving and money management are lifelong learning. Wherever you find yourself on your financial roadmap, I would encourage you to look for resources like the WSFS Knowledge Center for financial tips, and consider making an appointment to speak with your banker to learn more about the products that best fit your unique needs to help you succeed.”

Survey Methodology

The study was conducted by research company Opinium. The sample includes 1,500 national respondents and 1,750 in the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region who reside in five southeastern Pennsylvania counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia), four southern New Jersey counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester), and all three Delaware counties (Kent, Sussex and New Castle). All respondents were age 18+. The online survey was conducted from March 7-19, 2022, with a combined regional and national margin of error of +/- 2.5 percent.

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