May 23, 2022

Financial health: what’s missing, and how fintechs can help close the gap

The cost of living is on the up — here’s how fintechs can help those facing financial hurdles

Steph Bailey

6 min read

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The gap between the rich and poor continues to widen. Last year, billionaires saw the steepest increase in their wealth on record, with the richest 0.01% of people owning 11% of global wealth. 

But behind the stats are financial pain points, in which certain groups, including women, young people and minorities, face hurdles in building up wealth.   

“The majority of people have concerns about their financial situation and struggle to find real guidance that will help allow them to have some form of financial control in their lives,” says Ammar Kutait, chief executive and founder of W1TTY, a neobank targeting Gen Z. “The one-solution-fits-all approach from banks and institutions is now outdated. It’s about addressing the individual needs and requirements across age groups.”


But what exactly are the problems — and what are the solutions? We turned to the experts to find out. 

Instead of inherited wealth, inherited problems

For Kutait, Gen Z — which W1TTY says will make up 25% of the global workforce in the next couple of years — “seems to have the largest number of pain points” when it comes to finances.

“They face a largely prolific landscape of opportunities, which sounds ideal on paper, but can often be overwhelming and counter-productive in practice,” he says. “Due to the pandemic, Gen Z is living in a time of significant political, economic and social hardship.”

The increased cost of living is being felt by all of Europe right now. Recent internal consumer research conducted by W1TTY found that over 70% of Gen Z have suffered from increased mental stress with regards to managing their finances. Half stated they deliberately avoid checking their bank account.  

Charlotte Jessop, founder of financial education platform Looking After Your Pennies, says pain points in early life are problematic because they can make or break your financial story later in life.

“The thing is with finance, the earlier you start, the greater impact it has,” she tells Sifted. “If you start off your adult life and you’re in debt or you’ve maybe not been able to manage your money and you haven’t established things like your credit score, then that sets the tone for at least the first decade.” 

Due to the pandemic, Gen Z is living in a time of significant political, economic and social hardship

For Gen Zers suffering from poor financial health, W1TTY’s internal research from 2021-2022 in Europe and the UK found that 18% worry they won’t meet their savings targets, 16% are concerned they won’t be able to pay their bills and a further 16% worry about maintaining a stable income. 

Girls just want to have… equal access to finance

Another group facing financial barriers is women. Margot de Broglie, cofounder of Juno, a financial education app for women and non-binary people, says the reality is that we live in a system with big gender money gaps — from the gender pay gap to the gender investment gap and gender credit gap. 

“There’s all sorts of different gender money gaps that really show that still to this day,” she says. “We live in a system with deep structural inequalities.” 

Tobi Asare, founder of the My Bump Pay website, says women face additional hurdles when they have a baby, like the financial impact of maternity pay and maternity leave. 


“The pay or the amount women or families have to live on whilst they are off having a baby isn’t always that much,” she says. “Families sometimes have to sit down and make a financial decision in the short term that could harm a woman’s career in the long term.”   

No one is too cool for money school

For all groups facing financial pain points, education is key — and something that is a hurdle in itself due to being historically lacking. 

“One of the historic barriers that we have to people being able to successfully manage their money is just a lack of education,” says Jessop. “We’ve got generations of young people, millennials and Gen Z and even older people who haven’t had any sort of formal financial education or strategies for managing money.”   

Kutait says this is where fintechs can make a real difference. W1TTY, for instance, is gamifying financial education on its platform for young people.

“W1TTY’s financial education platform already empowers users to take control of their financial future and motivates them to build financial confidence,” he says. “But we also wish to make financial wellness fun… users will be able to learn finance, compete with friends on quizzes, and get rewarded along the way.” 

We’ve got generations of young people, millennials and Gen Z and even older people who haven’t had any sort of formal financial education or strategies for managing money

De Brogile adds that young people want to talk about money, but often don’t know where to go. This can lead to seeking advice on social media, which isn’t always helpful. 

“It blows my mind because on the one hand, they’re talking about money, they’re wanting to engage with the topic, it’s really amazing,” she says. “On the other hand, TikTok as a source of financial education is probably one of the worst places you can go.”    

One-size-fits-all doesn’t suit everyone 

For Kutait, another way fintechs can help is tailoring solutions for people’s unique situations and experiences. He says young people in particular like customisation, with 64% telling W1TTY they prefer the personalised banking experiences exhibited by banks and neobanks.

“We also are answering the challenge of made-to-measure,” he says. “Our choice of card options provides menus of options that suit various lifestyles, rather than a one-size-fits-all.” 

For De Brogile, part of the lack of diverse products is due to the lack of diversity in fintech, such as a lack of women with power in the industry. By including women (and other groups) in the conversation, solutions can be built with their needs (and wants) in mind.     

The problem we’re seeing right now is that these new financial innovations and technological innovations are being built by men for men,” she says. “The result of that is even in the more modern fintechs we see that the user base is mainly men and it’s mainly men that reap the rewards of the opportunities.” 

Jessop adds that fintechs also need to be conscious of making sure technology is accessible.

“I get really excited when I hear about new apps,” she says. “However, there are obviously older generations, or even the disabled community, where some of these advances are locking them out.”  

Saving for the future

Of course, a big part of financial health is saving for the future — and Kutait says gone are the days where people worked in the same job for long periods of time and retired with their pension — so fintechs need to adjust. 

For example, W1TTY’s internal consumer research found more than a third of Gen Z would rather invest in cryptocurrencies than a pension, so the fintech added those capabilities into its platform.

Asare adds that fintechs can also help you save for life events, like having a baby, by analysing your spending habits and creating “pots” for saving. 

“They start to understand your spending habits,” she says. “And they can start to put small amounts of money away for you as you are spending.”

Kutait says customisation and accessibility are the next stage in the development of fintechs. 

Fintechs in the past have provided the opportunity for users to take the first step towards digital banking,” he says. “But now it’s about taking further, smarter steps as part of the customers' longer-term financial journey.” 

Steph Bailey

Steph Bailey is head of content at Sifted. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn