Santander US Research Reveals Middle-Income Americans Are Optimistic about Achieving Financial Prosperity

03/29/2023
  • Almost 8 in 10 (79%) believe they will achieve financial prosperity within 10 years.
  • The majority (63%) of Gen Z respondents expect to achieve financial prosperity within the next 5 years

Santander Holdings USA, Inc. (“Santander US”) today announced findings from a new survey of middle-income Americans, which revealed that 86% of respondents believe financial prosperity remains a worthwhile goal, with 79% optimistic that they will achieve it within the next decade, despite current headwinds.

While hopeful, challenges such as inflation and the threat of a recession are impacting financial confidence, with a negative overall Net Confidence Score and nearly a third (31%) acknowledging they are on the wrong track. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) say they are worried that a recession would impact their financial prosperity, and 67% said they are not able to save as much because of inflation. In addition, 60% of middle-income Americans said that they had made significant cuts to household spending to adjust for inflation.

“In today’s uncertain environment, there’s a prevailing notion that prosperity is slipping out of reach for many Americans, particularly middle-income households. At Santander US, we strive to help our customers – many of whom are members of middle-income households – achieve their own financial prosperity. Santander puts the customer at the center of everything we do, and this research helps us to better understand our customers’ sentiments, needs and aspirations, so we can support them throughout their journey to a prosperous future.”

Tim Wennes
Santander US CEO

Moving beyond covering monthly bills and putting away savings, achieving financial prosperity is having the flexibility and freedom to pursue life goals and aspirations without needing to make significant financial sacrifices or tradeoffs. Respondents identified stable income, vehicle ownership, and access to financial services and products as drivers that will help them achieve financial prosperity.

Top Drivers of Financial Prosperity

  • Sources of income: Job-related income (83%) and investment gains (52%) were cited as the top income sources for achieving financial prosperity, with 14% relying on lottery winnings.
  • Vehicle ownership: With less than half of respondents (44%) having access to daily public transportation, vehicle ownership is critical. More than 3 in 4 middle-income Americans (76%) say vehicle access is critical for their job security, and 73% say having access to a vehicle directly impacts the number of job opportunities available to them. About two-thirds (64%) would sacrifice other budgetary items in order to access and maintain a vehicle.
  • Access to financial products and services: 57% of middle-income Americans say they are likely to turn to banks and financial service providers to help them achieve prosperity, which ranked above family members, government and their communities, and was second only to employers. Half of respondents cited a need for more access to financial products and services.

Gen Z respondents had particularly high levels of optimism, with 82% saying they are on the right track financially – higher than any other generation. Gen Z middle-income Americans are more likely than other generations to be relying on their employers to help them achieve prosperity, and they are more likely to turn to their employers for financial information. Gen Zers also are relying heavily on social media as a source of financial information, with more than 3 in 10 (31%) using social media platforms such as YouTube for financial information.

The study – which was conducted by Morning Consult from January 19-21, 2023, on behalf of Santander US – surveyed 2,203 Americans, ages 18-76, who are working and have income between $43,000 and $130,000. Survey participants use at least one financial service or product, such as a bank account, credit card or retirement account. The interviews were conducted online, and the margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points. The data was weighted to target population proportions for a representative sample based on age, gender, ethnicity, region and education.

Santander US Paths to Prosperity

The full report and more information about the Santander US survey is available here.

Click here to view the full report
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