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America’s Growing Financial Literacy Problem

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America's Growing Financial Literacy Problem

America’s Growing Financial Literacy Problem

Making major personal finance decisions can be daunting for anyone.

Whether the decision is related to paying back student debt or how to invest for the first time, the outcomes of these decisions have a long-term impact on the quality of our lives. Smart decisions can lead to achieving financial independence, while bad decisions can lead to years of being stuck in the “hole”.

Even though it’s clear that financial literacy is important, there’s a big problem: it’s actually been dropping for years in the United States.

Diagnosing the Problem

Today’s infographic was done in conjunction with Next Gen Personal Finance, a non-profit that provides a free online curriculum of personal finance courses geared to students.

The graphic paints a troubling picture of the current financial literacy situation in the country, while demonstrating why personal finance is a crucial area of study for our youth.

Here are some of the indicators that show literacy is dropping:

  • The U.S. ranks 14th globally in terms of financial literacy
  • With a 57% literacy, the U.S. beats Botswana (52%) but gets edged out by countries like Germany (66%) or Canada (68%)
  • Only 16.4% of U.S. students are required to take a personal finance class in schools
  • 76% of millennials lack basic financial knowledge
  • Between 2009-2015, Americans got worse at answering five key personal finance questions posed by FINRA – a major U.S. financial regulator

And worse, this lack of knowledge is translating into anxiety and even fear.

  • Four of five adults say they were never given the opportunity to learn about personal finance
  • 70% of millennials are stressed and anxious about saving for retirement
  • 22% of millennials feel overwhelmed about their finances
  • 13% of millennials feel scared

Meanwhile, student debt is soaring to new highs – how do we put our students in a better spot to succeed?

The Road Ahead

As financial products continue to increase in complexity, the road ahead is not an easy one.

However, there is still a great case for optimism: 60% of Americans say they know someday they will need to be more financially secure – they just don’t know how to get there. This number increases to 70% for those between the ages of 18-39 years old.

This means there is actually a great thirst for financial education out there – the question is just how to best deliver that information in a compelling way.

Another good sign? The youngest generation, Gen Z, is already starting to think about money differently:

Gen Z saw millennials struggle with wage stagnation and huge college debt, so they took note and are making a conscious effort to approach money and debt differently.

– Jason Dorsey, Center for Generational Kinetics

Real World Benefits

Increased financial literacy translates into real world benefits for individuals, and to the economy as a whole.

People with strong financial skills are better at job planning and saving for retirement. Meanwhile, financial savvy investors are more likely to diversify risk, and students that take a personal finance course see up to a 5.2% increase in credit scores within two years.

Lastly, consumers that understand compound interest:

  • Spend less on transaction fees
  • Accrue less debt
  • Incur lower interest rates on loans
  • Save more money

And this is just scratching the surface of what could be possible.

Making the right financial decisions can help people meet their own personal goals, live a life of abundance, get out of debt, and become financially independent.

This infographic was originally published on the Wealth 101: A Crash Course in Personal Finance minisite, a collaboration between NGPF and Visual Capitalist

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Markets

Uncovering Income: Dividend Stocks With Strong Yields

Some companies are cutting or suspending dividends. Which dividend stocks can investors consider for stable distributions and strong yields?

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Dividend Stocks

Uncovering Income: Dividend Stocks with Strong Yields

Amid the current market volatility, attractive income-generating investments can be hard to find.

Treasury bond yields hover near record lows, and U.S. companies face restrictions on issuing dividends if they accept COVID-19 stimulus funds. Moreover, Goldman Sachs estimates dividends for S&P 500 stocks will decline by 25% this year.

Which stocks can investors turn to for stable distributions and relatively high dividend yields? Today’s visualization shows 35 stocks that may meet this criteria, leveraging Goldman Sachs data as published by Forbes.

The Dividend Stocks to Watch

To compile the list, Goldman Sachs identified stocks from the Russell 1000 index that met a number of requirements:

  • A minimum annualized dividend yield of 3%
  • An S&P credit rating of at least BBB+
  • Ample cash on hand
  • Strong balance sheets
  • ”Reasonable” payout ratios
  • At least average performance since the market peak

Dividend yields, which measure dividend income in relation to the share price, were initially calculated March 27. We have updated them as of market close on April 8. Here’s the full breakdown, sorted from highest to lowest dividend yield:

RankCompanyTickerAnnual Dividend YieldSector
1CenterPoint Energy, Inc.NYSE: CNP6.90%Utilities
2Wells Fargo & CompanyNYSE: WFC6.74%Financials
3People's United Financial, Inc.NASDAQGS: PBCT6.34%Financials
4Franklin Resources, Inc.NYSE: BEN6.28%Financials
5Regency CentersNASDAQGS: REG5.82%Real estate
6Truist FinancialNYSE: TFC5.50%Financials
7International Business MachinesNYSE: IBM5.43%Tech
8Omnicom Group Inc.NYSE: OMC4.76%Communication services
9U.S. BancorpNYSE: USB4.71%Financials
10Raytheon Technologies (merger of Raytheon and United Tech.)NYSE: RTX4.69%Industrials
11NetApp, Inc.NASDAQGS: NTAP4.69%Information Technology
12The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.NYSE: PNC4.62%Financials
13Eaton Vance Corp.NYSE: EV4.34%Financials
14Nucor CorporationNYSE: NUE4.12%Materials
15United Parcel Service, Inc.NYSE: UPS4.09%Industrials
16M&T Bank CorporationNYSE: MTB4.09%Financials
17Exelon CorporationNASDAQGS: EXC4.07%Utilities
18Archer-Daniels-Midland CompanyNYSE: ADM3.95%Consumer staples
193M Company NYSE: MMM3.95%Industrials
20Emerson Electric Co.NYSE: EMR3.84%Industrials
21Sysco Corp.NYSE: SYY3.81%Consumer staples
22Mid-America Apartment CommunitiesNYSE: MAA3.61%Real Estate
23Essex Property Trust, Inc.NYSE: ESS3.55%Real Estate
24MDU Resources GroupNYSE: MDU3.53%Utilities
25Cummins Inc.NYSE: CMI3.51%Industrials
26Sonoco Products Co.NYSE: SON3.50%Materials
27Cisco Systems, Inc.NASDAQGS: CSCO3.45%Information Technology
28American Electric Power Company, Inc.NYSE: AEP3.36%Utilities
29The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.NYSE: HIG3.36%Financials
30NiSource Inc.NYSE: NI3.30%Utilities
31Caterpillar Inc.NYSE: CAT3.23%Industrials
32Everest Re Group, Ltd.NYSE: RE3.13%Financials
33Bristol-Myers Squibb CompanyNYSE: BMY3.09%Health care, pharmaceuticals
34The Home Depot, Inc.NYSE: HD3.08%Consumer discretionary
35Bank of America CorporationNYSE: BAC3.07%Financials

Note: From the original list, 5 stocks have been excluded as they no longer meet the 3% annualized yield threshold.

Centerpoint Energy, an electric and natural gas utility company, is at the top of the list. Since utility stocks are generally considered to be recession-resistant, investors may benefit from both the company’s yield and its defensive qualities.

Financials are the most-represented sector, with 11 companies on the list. Although regulators have pressured European banks to suspend dividend payments, U.S. banks will likely be able to continue their distributions. Top banking executives have argued they have sufficient capital to weather the COVID-19 crisis, and that halting payments would be “destabilizing to investors.”

There are also a number of well-known names on the list, including Home Depot, IBM, and 3M. The latter is the largest maker of respirator masks worldwide, and has been providing critical supplies to the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Caution: Volatility Ahead

As the pandemic’s financial impact continues, it’s likely many companies will delay or suspend their dividends. To avoid falling into “yield traps”—a trap in which an attractive yield could be due to a fundamental business problem—investors can screen for the qualities laid out above.

A strong balance sheet, good credit rating, and average or better performance since the downturn can all help point towards stability.

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Investor Education

Bridging the Gap: Wealth Isn’t Just for the Wealthy

The UK has a financial adviser gap, leaving about 51 million adults without advice. Learn how wealthtech makes investing accessible for everyone.

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wealthtech

In the UK, money is the #1 cause of stress—ranking above physical health, work, or family.

When people begin investing, they see immediate emotional benefits compared to non-investors. In fact, investors are 16 percentage points happier, and 23 percentage points more positive about their well-being.

However, only 37% of Brits hold market-based investments. So why aren’t more people taking steps to invest? Today’s infographic from BlackRock outlines the barriers people face, and how wealthtech can help address these issues at scale.

wealthtech

The Wealth Problem

A variety of hurdles keep people from taking control of their finances.

  1. Lack of Resources: 59% of Brits feel they don’t have enough money to invest.
  2. Lack of Knowledge: 39% say a lack of knowledge holds them back.
  3. Fear of Failure: 34% are afraid of losing everything if they invest.

All of these factors culminate in insufficient investing. In fact, 50% of the €26 trillion European wealth market is currently in uninvested cash, earning zero interest.

What’s the Current Solution?

Traditionally, investment advisers helped tackle these issues. However, investors have faced challenges accessing professional advice in recent years.

A shortage of UK advisers is a main contributing factor:

  • There are only 26,700 advisers, who can service an average of 100 clients each.
  • This leaves over 51 million adults without professional advice.

Among available advisers, many impose investment minimums or fees that create barriers for lower-income populations. Financial advisers charge an average of £150/hour, and half of all surveyed advisers turned away clients with less than £50,000 to invest.

With so many hurdles to overcome, how can Brits take charge of their investments?

A Modern Solution

Wealth technology—or simply wealthtech—helps address these issues at scale, offering four main digital-first solutions:

  1. Helps investors build better portfolios.
    Gone are the days of rudimentary spreadsheets. With the help of algorithms and machine learning, investors can now automatically build sophisticated portfolios.
  2. Helps advisors scale their services.
    The automation of time-consuming processes allows advisers to service more clients.
  3. Reaches more people.
    Wealthtech is accessible for all, not just the wealthy. For example, micro-investing apps allow investors to make small, regular contributions without paying a commission.
  4. Modernises infrastructure.
    Wealthtech updates old legacy systems with more streamlined, automated systems. As a result, paper-based processes are replaced with mobile transactions that can be done with the click of a button.

These benefits can be applied across various branches of wealth management.

The Wealthtech Ecosystem

Investors can choose one of three main paths, based on their level of knowledge and interest.

“Do It Yourself” Investing
Confident investors who enjoy managing their own money can trade securities through self-directed online platforms.

“Do It For Me” Investing
Novice investors can use platforms that execute trades on their behalf, such as micro-investing or robo-advisers.

“Do It With Me” Investing
For investors in the middle of this spectrum, certain platforms offer a hybrid of digital transactions and professional advice.

With a wide variety of solutions available, investing has never been easier.

Inclusive Wealth-Building

It’s clear Brits are open to the shift: 64% say new technology would help them be more involved in their investments.

As wealthtech evolves, it will be seamlessly integrated into daily life as part of a holistic financial services offering. Traditional barriers will be broken down, empowering individuals to take charge of their financial future.

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