This bank CEO is not like the other girls, or at least he doesn’t want you to think he is, as he asserts that he knows his customers are struggling. “In many ways, someone today that’s making $100,000-plus really struggles to live the American Dream for a variety of different reasons, and they need a relationship bank,” Anthony Noto, the chief executive of SoFi Technologies, said in a JPMorgan investor conference this week.
Citing the hefty price of going to college, Noto explains that many workers are graduating and “going to be in a hole and they can’t invest.” He’s not wrong. The price of higher education is starting younger generations off on the wrong economic foot, so to speak, making it hard for them to build wealth and reach the same financial milestones as previous cohorts.
“If they buy a home that’s too big relative to their means, they’re not going to be able to save and they’re going to constantly be running over budget,” he adds, explaining that’s where his company would like to come in to help these individuals invest. To be fair, the executive of the fintech company was framing SoFi as the solution to many (or all) of these problems.
As a giant in the fintech space, straddling the line between financial services and an app, SoFi is active in student and personal loans, originating billions every quarter, but as the Motley Fool notes, the market seems skeptical. Its stock is up about 10% this year, but that’s less than half the increase of the Nasdaq Composite, a benchmark index for tech stocks.
And about that unattainable American Dream because of student loans thing, Noto’s company has sued the government in order to try to stop the pause on student loans, because that’s a huge plank of its business. “SoFi’s attempt to end the student loan payment pause and force millions of Americans into repayment while raking in massive revenues and handing out huge executive paychecks represents corporate greed at its worst,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a statement in April.
Still, there’s an underlying truth to Noto’s words. During a time of high inflation, many, especially younger individuals who are more impacted by market volatility and graduated with greater debt, have realized that the American Dream is no longer accessible or affordable. Wages aren’t keeping pace with inflation, which impacts those with entry-level jobs at a greater level. It’s all led to many millennials sounding a bit like a SoFi Technologies guy, stating that a low six figure salary isn’t the goal anymore. It’s easier to see savings be chipped away at even with a $100,000 annual pay, as a poll from Morning Consult showed that households that made more than $100,000 yearly experience the greatest drop in financial well-being compared to a year ago.
It doesn’t help that the hallmarks of the storied American Dream were buying a home and eventually retiring, things that have always been quite difficult but have started to feel trying for the youth of today that’s grappling with a bit more financial insecurity. Aging into a difficult housing market, some Gen Z and millennials are depending on their parents in order to get by and afford their bills. The bench post for retirement has also moved, as experts now project that even $1 million is too low for a comfortable retirement.
Even more than $100,00 feels paltry to Americanns and Noto alike. “Compared to past generations, $125,000 doesn’t feel like enough anymore,” Kelly, age 29 who works in tech, tells Fortune’s Alicia Adamczyk, “My parents, they raised four children on that. I had this expectation that when you make all this money, you can live a comfortable life.
And a majority of (61%) of millennials and Gen Zers told banking app Dave and Harris Poll in 2022 that they lack confidence they can afford their goals. It’s gotten to the point where many don’t think they can afford their dream future, America’s dream or not.