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Etiqa Discovers that Gen Z are More Financially Savvy than Most Assume!


Gen Z Financial Health Survey_Infographic

Etiqa’s Gen Z Financial Health Survey, aimed at gaining insights into the struggles faced by Generation Z in Malaysia and Singapore, revealed some surprising findings, including that young people are more financially savvy that commonly assumed. The survey, conducted over a number of months in 2023 and 2024 amongst Gen Z and Millennials in Malaysia and Singapore, was aimed at capturing the challenges young people faced in making financial decisions and how they prioritise their spending. It also highlighted the similarities and differences between Gen Z financial habits in Malaysia and in Singapore.

Against the backdrop of the growing influence of consumption habits of Gen Z who now constitute 30% of the world’s population and are expected to reach 27% of the world’s workforce in 2025, Etiqa set out to understand how this demographic group will influence future economic trends. Given the economic disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that numerous studies have shown that Gen Z are the demographic most likely to report they are stressed in the workplace and financially.  Studies reported in the Jakarta post on Asian Gen Z indicate that the younger generation are  40% more likely to express feeling stressed about money compared to older generations, and they are five times less likely to exhibit discipline in their spending habits.”[1] At the same time, the generational wars have painted Boomers as conservative, resistant to change but more financially secure whilst Gen Z have been depicted as more socially conscious and looking for work-life balance yet less financially focused.

Therefore, the findings from Etiqa’s Gen Z’s Financial Health Survey that young people demonstrate a higher level of financial savviness than previously believed, comes across as a surprise.  According to the research, 64% of this demographic in Malaysia highlighted that insufficient emergency funds and difficulties in saving money were amongst their top 3 concerns and that comprehensive financial planning was something they would welcome given that 48% were concerned about having a poor credit score.

These concerns were partly fueled by the rise in living expenses and economic shifts, prompting Generation Z to reconsider their approach to saving and investing. A significant majority in both Singapore and Malaysia, ranging between 90% and 95%, acknowledged that the prevailing economic conditions and interest rate environment have influenced their saving behaviors, shaping their decisions regarding asset ownership and financial goals.

When examining the top two effects of the current market conditions, 33% and 35% of respondents mentioned that it was more challenging to save for financial goals or that they had postponed major purchases such as properties and cars respectively. Meanwhile, across the border, 42% agreed that the current market conditions made it difficult to save for financial goals, and 41% stated that these conditions increased their financial stress.

To counter these concerns, Malaysian Generation Z have tightened their belts with 55% stating that they ate out less and cooked more at home whilst 33% aimed to generate more income via investment. Towards this goal, they have sought out financial education through various means. In line with the preference towards visual and online sources, some of the preferred means of obtaining financial education amongst the Gen Z are online influencers who make personal finance accessible, understandable, and even entertaining. These “fin-fluencers,” such as SG Budget Babe and the Financial Coconut, provide guidance on various aspects of money management, including its impact on relationships, mental health in the workplace, and cultivating personal interests. By blending personal anecdotes with financial expertise, these creators connect with Generation Z individuals who are navigating issues like the rising cost of living and increased youth unemployment. [2] In Malaysia, online influencers such as Mr Money and Financial Faiz play a similar role.

This has led to some 45% of Malaysian Generation Z expressing that they are confident of managing their own finances similarly with Singaporean Generation Z although more than half of both groups expressed confidence in building up their savings. This indicates a commendably mature stance toward financial management among the younger generation. Additionally, it is highlighted by the Institute for Capital Market Research Malaysia (ICMR) that Generation Z’s exposure to the internet and guidance from online influencers play a significant role in shaping their investment behaviour.[3]

Another interesting finding from the survey was that Generation Z in Malaysia are favouring investments in a wide range of products including insurance, gold/precious metals, and mutual funds. Specifically, 33% of Generation Z individuals are investing in insurance, 31% in precious metals, and 27% in mutual funds and bonds. And this interest was not constrained to only a small subset of the demographic with 65% of Malaysian Generation Z individuals engaging in investing and saving practices.

Those statistics also apply to Singaporean Generation Z, with 74% of young people in Singapore investing. Upon interviewing those who do not invest, nearly half cited concerns about the risks associated with investing, while others express uncertainty about where to begin. Interestingly, the slightly older generation, Millennials, exhibit higher levels of confidence in investing and saving funds compared to Singaporean Gen Zs. This disparity could be attributed to their experience in handling financial challenges and their higher median salaries, which afford them greater disposable income for investments or emergency funds. Amongst those who do invest, Singaporean Gen Z demonstrated a higher level of risk appetite with 57% looking to invest in Stocks or Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) vs only 19% in Malaysia. Only 19% of Singaporean Gen Zs were investing in less volatile Mutual Funds versus the 27% in Malaysia.

What do they do with this investment income? Interestingly, while Malaysian Gen Z individuals, as expected, express a desire to travel more (with 50% citing this among their top 3 priorities over the next 12 months), and a surprisingly high number (73%) indicate that buying a property or a car are also among their top 3 priorities. Additionally, self-pampering goals to spend on personal hobbies rank high on their list, with 36% including it in their top 3 priorities. In contrast to their counterparts in Singapore who prioritize traveling the most (52%), followed by investing (49%), and buying properties and a car (30%) as their top 3 spending priorities over the next 12 months.

Kamaludin Ahmad, Etiqa Insurance & Takaful’s Group Chief Executive Officer underscores the importance of understanding Generation Z’s financial behaviour and its implications for financial products and services. “Understanding Generation Z’s financial behaviour is crucial in today’s dynamic landscape. Surveys in Singapore and Malaysia show a financially savvy generation actively reshaping savings and investment strategies, relying for guidance from online influencers. Malaysian Generation Z favour liquid products like insurance, while confidence levels vary among Singaporeans. However, both prioritize personal interests and family support.

Etiqa is committed to empowering Generation Z with tailored products and resources, equipping them to confidently navigate their financial path with resilience. In the face of economic shifts and rising living costs, investing in investment-linked products holds promise for helping them attain their financial goals, thereby contributing to a brighter future for all. This promise is substantiated by a 97% increase in the uptake of Etiqa’s Investment Linked Products by young individuals in Malaysia in 2023 from 2022, underscoring the demand for these solutions and highlighting the savvy nature of young investors in securing their future,” he added.

The survey revealed the surprising similarity between Generation Z in Malaysia and Singapore with around 50% of both groups being confident in managing their financial matters and over 60% engaging in investment practices thus revealing a better than expected financial awareness. On the flip side, the higher risk appetite amongst Singaporean Generation Z with close to 60% looking to invest in equities versus only close to 20% in Malaysia doing so, may reflect the more mature financial market in Singapore. As an ASEAN-based insurer, Etiqa is committed to uncovering both the disparities and similarities across Southeast Asia through future surveys. This endeavour aims to enhance Etiqa’s ability to meet the diverse needs of individuals across the region. 

[1] The Jakarta Post: How Asian financial services providers can reach Gen Z (

[2] Singapore Business: Gen Z Pop Culture Is Key To Financial Literacy In Southeast Asia (

[3] Siri Penyelidikan ICMR: Bagaimana Milenial Dan Gen Z Rakyat Malaysia Mendapat Maklumat Berkenaan Kewangan Dan Pelaburan (