Tech, not marriage, has Gen Y joined at the hip pocket

10 June 2019

Young Australians are challenging the concept of joint accounts as an institution of marriage, with an affinity for technology emerging as a key influence in the dramatic trend reversal.

A Bankwest survey of Australia’s two largest population hubs – NSW and VIC – identified a reversal in commitment trends around joint bank accounts by the younger generation.

The findings showed that almost half of Gen Y respondents (46.7%) with joint bank accounts were neither married, nor engaged at the time of entering the financial commitment.

The results marked a dramatic generational swing from the behaviours of older Australians.

More than eight out of 10 Baby Boomers (84.2%) and three quarters of Gen X respondents (77.3%) with joint accounts only merged their money once they were either married or engaged.

Bankwest EGM Customer Solutions and Insights Pieter Vorster said, while several factors influence the need for joint accounts, Gen Y’s tech affinity minimised barriers to commitment.

“There are situations faced by every generation that make joint bank accounts either a necessity or attractive option, but we’re now seeing the erosion of some key barriers with Gen Y,” he said.

“Joint accounts have traditionally been an institution of marriage due to the level of trust required, which offsets the advantages of convenience and financial strength in pooling funds.

“However, the tech tools available now are helping remove trust and anxiety as barriers for this generation, allowing people to focus on necessity and convenience as the key drivers.

“We know, of all generations, Gen Y is most at ease with the influence of tech in their lives, with almost three quarters (69.6%) reporting being ‘very comfortable’ with using technology.

“Furthermore, a fifth of all Gen Y respondents reported they actively seek out new technology to manage their finances, compared to just 10 percent of Gen X and five percent of Baby Boomers.

“The tools our customers are using today enable them to have total visibility and transparency of their accounts, set goals, and receive transaction alerts at the touch of a button.

“Those tools and Gen Y’s affinity with tech helps minimise the anxieties of previous generations around joint bank accounts, so they can take the plunge before, well, taking the plunge.”

Survey findings

Respondents who reported using technology to manage finances
   Gen Y (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%) Overall (%)
As much as possible and actively seek out new technology 20.9 10.2 5.4 14.2
Respondents’ comfort level with technology
   Gen Y (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%) Overall (%)
Very comfortable 69.6 49.2 35.0 55.4
Somewhat comfortable 28.1 45.3 56.2 39.8
Not very comfortable 2.1 4.3 7.3 4.0
Not comfortable at all 0.2 1.2 1.5 0.8
Respondents’ relationship status
   Gen Y (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%) Overall (%)
Respondents who are married or in a defacto relationship 53.6 61.4 69.6 59.7
Of those respondents, those who have a joint bank account with their partner 58.2 70.5 80.7 68.2
Of those who hold a joint bank account, the point in the relationship at which it was opened
   Gen Y (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%) Overall (%)
Within 12 months of starting the relationship 28.3 35.5 56.8 40.4
Within two years of starting the relationship 28.3 18.2 17.8 21.8
Within two to five years of starting the relationship 31.6 27.3 15.1 24.5
Within five to ten years of starting the relationship 10.5 10.9 2.7 7.8
More than ten years after starting the relationship 1.3 8.2 7.5 5.4
Of those who hold a joint bank account, were married at the time of opening
   Gen Y (%) Gen X (%) Baby Boomers (%) Overall (%)
Yes 30.3 48.2 61.6 46.3
No, but were engaged 23.0 29.1 22.6 24.5
No, and were not engaged 46.7 22.7 15.8 29.2
About Bankwest
Bankwest provides personal and business banking solutions for more than 1.1 million retail and business customers across Australia. Bankwest customers enjoy access to an extensive network of stores and business centres, direct and third party distribution channels, agencies and electronic banking facilities, as well as 24-hour telephone and internet banking. Bankwest is a division of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

About the report
This data contained in this release was captured as part of a wider survey conducted by Bankwest. Research was carried out by CoreData via an online survey of Victoria and New South Wales residents. The survey was designed, with input and approval from Bankwest, prior to fieldwork commencing. All fieldwork was conducted from 5-11 February 2019. CoreData was responsible for distributing and hosting the survey, which was sent to Victorian and New South Wales residents between the age of 18 and 70. A total of 1,001 responses were completed.

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