It’s time to face the facts: schools don’t always equip kids and teens with all the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.
True, public education in the United States does provide students with the kinds of opportunities that would be almost certainly unavailable to them otherwise. That said, far too many high schoolers graduate not knowing how to file their taxes, maintain a budget, or invest in the stock market. They may be able to recite the Pythagorean Theorem by heart, or maybe even explain the deeper themes of a Shakespeare play, but when it comes to managing their finances, they’re lost.
Schools that overlook this material should make a greater attempt to include it in their curricula. However, in the meantime, young adults are being forced to make do with whatever resources they have available as they attempt to figure out how to handle their money responsibly. In the past, that meant hoping your parents would be helpful, asking friends for assistance, or researching the topic on the internet.
Now there’s arguably another resource all people can use to fill in the gaps in their financial education: fintech services.
Fintech Services Meet Millennials Where They Are
Members of the generation that has essentially grown up with internet and smartphone access often learn new processes by using apps requiring them to use that process over and over again. For instance, millennials who frequently post photos to Instagram find that over time, their photography skills improve. The app gives them both a reason to take more pictures than they may have had before, and depending on the accounts they follow, they are exposed to quality photography. Eventually, they begin to acquire new skills almost intuitively.
The same principle could theoretically apply to financial tasks. The success of Mint.com, especially among younger users, indicates that there is a demand for easy-to-use budgeting tools that leverage mobile technology to offer users an unparalleled degree of convenience.
Before a service like this existed, it’s easy to imagine that young adults who hadn’t learned how to budget properly picked up the necessary skills slowly. Sitting at a table with a calculator and trying to figure out how much money to put aside for food, rent, and recreation each month was an arduous process. Understandably, many young adults – and, honestly, many people of all ages – put off financial tasks for this reason.
Services like Mint.com have changed that. Now, budgeting can be just another simple, daily activity. More young people are willing to work on their budget on a regular basis, meaning more young people are beginning to learn how to effectively manage their finances.
Additional Fintech Niches Are Primed for Disruption
Odds are good that similar fintech services will continue to offer similar educational opportunities. Many experts in the industry have pointed out that personal insurance may be the next niche primed for disruption. Innovators are already working on developing products and services which would simplify the process of buying and managing personal insurance policies.
If one of these solutions were to achieve widespread popularity, we could soon expect young adults to become much more comfortable with the idea of purchasing insurance. Again, if they didn’t already learn how to do so in school, people may struggle to understand what features they should seek out in a policy, how to ensure they’re properly covered, and how to compare their policies on a regular basis to confirm that they’re not overpaying.
The right insurtech product would give them the chance to learn about managing their personal insurance via a familiar method. Services like Robinhood may have already had the same impact on people interested in investing in the stock market.
Similarly, to successfully buy and sell stocks, one needs to conduct a significant amount of research. That fact, combined with prohibitive broker fees, often discouraged some young people from trying their hand at the stock market in the past. Now that the barrier to entry has been significantly lowered, they’re far more likely to start pursuing this interest with greater enthusiasm and confidence.
The Future of Fintech
When developing any sort of fintech product, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just building a useful tool – you may very well be providing young adults with a vital educational resource. Students who didn’t learn how to balance a checkbook or research a stock in school can now develop their skills with products tailored to their natural style of learning. It will be very interesting to see the overall impact fintech services have on young adult financial behavior in the coming years.