Improving US consumers’ financial health

How GfK research helped the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) understand and measure the financial health of Americans.

By GfK, a leading worldwide market research company.


Improve the financial health by shaping an innovative financial services marketplace with increased access to quality products and practices.

Financial health comes about when your daily systems help you build resilience and pursue opportunities. To help explain and quantify the opportunity for the financial services industry, The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) needed to measure the current state of financial health in America and understand how the components (financial health indicators) interacted with one another.


Quantitative techniques

GfK surveyed over 7,000 people aged 18 years and older, across all income groups and ethnicities in the US. The data for the entire survey sample was weighted to ensure national representation. The methodology included an over-sample of consumers earning under US$50,000 to ensure robust understanding of the lower half of the income spectrum. Survey questions covered a range of financial health indicators, including financial behaviours and attitudes, as well as financial products used. GfK also collaborated with CFSI to tap into third-party data, such as consumer credit data from Lexis-Nexis Risk Solutions, to gain additional insight into consumers’ financial situation.

So what?

Improved financial service industry

GfK collaborated with CFSI to identify seven segments across the full spectrum of financial health. The segments are driven largely by a set of behaviours and attitudes, such as planning for future expenses and approaches to saving that present themselves regardless of age, income or education. A major finding from this research was that 57% of American adults are struggling financially. CFSI used the survey data to compile its ground-breaking Consumer Financial Health Study. The research was a call to action for the financial service industry. Financial services companies need to provide new mechanisms to spend, borrow, save and plan that will provide real and lasting value to their customers, while also creating long-term revenue streams. CFSI’s research was highlighted in dozens of media articles and has been presented in-depth multiple times to CFSI’s network of over 100 financial services providers who are leading the way on improving financial health in the US. The organisation continues to use the data in its thought leadership and work with financial services providers to build high-quality products and services.