Top Financial Issues Americans are Facing Today


We speak with Vanessa Okwuraiwe, principal at Edward Jones, about why it’s important for Americans to learn about finances earlier in life, and the top financial topics Americans find themselves struggling with. Okwuraiwe also shares how Americans feel about investing and their own financial education.

Why is it more important than ever that Americans are financially educated?

According to a recent study by Edward Jones and Morning Consult, only one in five American adults reported learning about financial education in school. Further, nearly half of respondents were 25 years or older when they gained the majority of their education on the topic – and 18% never received an education on finances at any age.

In our increasingly complex economic environment defined by unprecedented volatility, it is crucial for Americans to learn about finances earlier in life to set them up for a more confident and secure future.

With roughly 60% believing they would be more confident in their financial situations if they had a better understanding of debt management, there’s a clear need and opportunity for more financial education on the topic.

How do Americans feel about their own financial education?

According to our research, more than a quarter of respondents said they lack confidence in their financial knowledge as adults. In addition, nearly one-third (31%) reported feeling concerned or stressed in conjunction with their current financial standing.

We believe this can be remedied with earlier and more accessible financial education, such as Edward Jones’ new resource, EdWords of Wisdom, designed specifically to help Americans on their financial journeys, including younger generations.

However, for those who did not receive any financial education in school, they are open to catching up – many respondents indicated an interest in improving their knowledge on topics like debt management and preparing for retirement.

What are the top financial topics Americans find themselves struggling with?

Our study found that nearly half of respondents noted knowledge gaps on important financial topics such as financial caregiving, managing student debt and investing in capital markets. In addition to free and accessible online tools like those provided by Edward Jones, working with a financial advisor is another important step that Americans can take to fill in those gaps and put in place clear plans to achieve their short- and long-term financial goals.    

How do they feel about the topic of investing specifically?

According to our research, Americans are very interested in improving their knowledge on investing in the markets – and identified a significant knowledge gap in this space.

While there is a clear opportunity for further education around investing for all ages, we have seen firsthand the impact of early education on investing. During this past school year, 86% of students who participated in Edward Jones’ Financial Fitness program with EVERFI said that after taking the course, they are likely to invest in the stock market.

What’s standing in the way of Americans having better financial confidence?

A lack of financial education is one of the biggest barriers facing Americans when it comes to building their financial confidence. Improving access to educational resources – including in schools, which 33 states are already trying to change by requiring or recommending education for high school students on personal finance topics – can help Americans feel more comfortable with these topics as they move into adult life.

Financial advisors can be a useful additional resource, including helping to point Americans in the right direction for other educational materials. Financial advisors can also work with individuals to tailor financial strategies to their current needs and broader life goals, helping them feel more confident as they go through life.

Why is it important to start financial education early?

Learning about finances earlier can help Americans feel more secure as they move through their lives. To put it simply, knowledge builds confidence. We need to empower individuals to secure their financial futures.

Whether someone is just beginning a financial journey with their first bank account, or they are further along and looking to build financial health in retirement, gaining financial knowledge will help Americans feel more confident in their next money moment.

This interview originally appeared in our TradeTalks newsletter. Sign up here to access exclusive market analysis by a new industry expert each week. We also spotlight must-see TradeTalks videos from the past week.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.



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