2020 year in review

SoFi’s 2020 Year In Review

While 2020 was a year that many of us could not have predicted, one that tested us all, we want to take a moment to celebrate our members and our many accomplishments together — and to see the difference a year makes, comparing this past year with 2019.

To get the full picture, we analyzed internal data and surveyed over 1,000 general consumers (ages 24 to 73) and over 500 SoFi members across the U.S1. Here’s what we found:

The Headline That Overtook 2020

There’s no question about it: this year has been an unprecedented year with one subject consistently in the headlines: the COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected everything – our careers and jobs, money, and personal lives. Despite the challenges the pandemic brought, SoFi’s mission to help our over one million members get their money right never wavered. In fact, half of surveyed members and non-members said 2020 was “good” for them financially, with 19% saying it was better than last year. Still, 20% said the year was terrible, marking the gap between those who are and aren’t positioned for financial success.

Generally, the majority of people surveyed (69%) said they were talking about money more in 2020, which is good news. But the bad news is that many people had financial anxiety this year. The top cause of financial anxiety for both members and non-members was monthly payments including rent, a mortgage, car bills (32%), closely followed by job security (29%), credit card debt (27%), investments (27%), and retirement accounts (26%).

Member Milestones

Despite the pandemic, SoFi members checked off some pretty major financial milestones this year, including:

•  38% paid off debt (Student Loans + Personal Loans)

•  28% started an emergency fund

•  26% started investing

•  23% maxed out retirement accounts

•  11% saved for their child’s 529 account

Additionally, certain financial milestones were prioritized. According to our members, over one quarter (27%) sped up starting an emergency fund while 25% started investing and 21% started saving for retirement. That said, amid the pandemic, 17% put off maxing out retirement accounts, 15% negotiating a raise and 14% buying a house.

Perks of Being a SoFi Member

From this time last year, SoFi has increased our members by over 75% and celebrated 1M members at the start of the year. We also helped our members save almost $1M in ATM fees. Now that’s what we call getting your money right.

When asked what their favorite SoFi benefit is, members said they most loved having access to our private Facebook member group. Second was the 1:1 sessions with a financial planner that we provide and next was our in-person member experiences and livestreams of our events.

Once social distancing mandates took effect and we couldn’t hold in-person member events, we pivoted quickly to hosting events digitally. We held 114 webinars and 188 total events (including social livestreams and in-person events earlier in the year) across financial, career, and social networking topics. As a result, we actually connected with more SoFi members than last year. Over 17,000 people attended a SoFi digital event, and we reached members in every single state across the country.

This year, we also introduced a new event called Financially Ever After, where we helped couples stuck at home together navigate their finances with the help of therapy consultations and a checklist.

SoFi StadiumTM, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, also launched this year. While the stadium couldn’t welcome fans and SoFi members this year, our #1 Fan, Precious Ares, was able to preview the member benefits that await. Speaking of football, want to know how many touchdowns have been scored in the SoFi Stadium since it officially opened? The answer: 12 at home touchdowns for the Los Angeles Rams and 16 at home touchdowns for the Los Angeles Chargers.

What Did 2020 Have In Store For SoFi Members?

Throughout 2020, SoFi members continued to save, invest, and tackle their financial goals. This year, the five most traded stocks included: Amazon (AMZN), Tesla (TSLA), Apple (AAPL), Walt Disney (DIS), and Microsoft(MSFT). We also took a look back at the top 10 buys by month, and uncovered a few highlights:

To no surprise, Tesla (TSLA) has had a strong year.

Around April, SoFi traders jumped into battered airlines, cruise stocks and pharmaceutical companies including Delta Airlines, Boeing, American Airlines, Carnival, Inovio, and Moderna.

Beyond Meats gained popularity around May by crushing analyst forecasts after they seemed to be able to quickly pivot their U.S. business toward grocery stores and away from restaurants.

Interest in companies with a proximity to IPOs also stood strong, including holding company Rocket Companies and technology and data-driven Palantir.

In October, we announced that our highly anticipated social investing features would be live for all SoFi Invest members. Members who enabled the feature have the ability to follow other members’ investment holdings, watchlists, and SoFi Invest activity.

When it comes to spending, we know 2020 was an interesting year. Despite shifting spending priorities, the top five popular spending categories were:

•  Restaurant

•  Grocery

•  Travel and Lodging

•  Retail

•  Airlines

Getting Your Money Right – More Important Than Ever This Year

We’re always seeking to help our members get their money right, and this year we felt our mission has been more important than ever. We all started the new year with goals in mind, but which goals stayed top of mind? And what does getting their money right mean exactly to our members?

We found that members believe they’re getting their money right when: they’re saving for retirement (69%), investing their money (61%), being financially independent (61%), paying their bills on time (53%), and when they have money to donate to a charity of their choosing (35%). We agree!

Out of our 11 core values here at SoFi, putting our members first is tip top of the list. We thrive when our members are getting their money right and trusting us to help achieve their financial milestones and ambitions. With our wide portfolio of products, we’re continuously finding and improving on ways we can help our members achieve these milestones – so when you celebrate, we celebrate!

But there’s one question we really wanted to ask: did any of us, SoFi members and non-members, aim to recession-proof our finances after such an unpredictable year? Turns out, 45% of our SoFi members admitted to recession-proofing their finances while 46% of non-members admitted the same. Both groups did this by:

•  Delaying big expenses (39%)

•  Changing their investment strategy (39%)

•  Prioritizing paying off high interest rate debt (36%)

•  Building an emergency fund (35%)

•  Taking advantage of the market (35%)

Looking Ahead To 2021

It’s probably safe to say that we’re all in agreement when it comes to 2020: in a word, NEXT! With a new year comes new opportunities, so we wanted to see what your goals were for 2021. Both SoFi members and non-members shared that they wanted to save as much as possible (62%); stay out of debt (40%); finally get out of debt for good (35%); invest in the market (32%); and get their spending under control (26%).

A common theme here is spending and debt, and at SoFi we offer a portfolio of products for our members to get their money right. One great way to kick off the new year is with a session with one of our CFPs®, including Lauren Anastasio or Brian Walsh.

As we enter 2021 and get into the routine of the new year, we were also curious to hear what members and non-members want to accomplish in the year 2021. According to our survey, they want to pay off student loan or personal loan debt (41%), get a raise/promotion (31%), max out their retirement accounts (27%), start investing (22%), and buy a house or an apartment (20%).

Catch You Later 2020, We’re Ready For 2021

Here we are, closing out another year together. While it’s been an interesting one, we’re so happy to have shared so many financial milestones with each and every one of you. Whether you’ve paid off debt, kicked off your savings or investing journey, or started a family, this is only the beginning. We’re feeling pretty positive with 2021 on the horizon and it sounds like others are, too. According to our survey, 79% admitted to feeling optimistic about the new year.

We have some amazing things in store, including our 10-year anniversary. Thanks for another wonderful year in spite of it all!

1Based on two SurveyMonkey surveys with both SoFi members and non-members with a total of 1,500+ respondents from 10/26/2020 – 11/19/2020.

The individuals surveyed for this article were not compensated for their participation. This information is educational in nature, is not individualized, and it may not be applicable to your unique situation. It is not intended to serve as the primary or sole basis for your financial decisions.

Third Party Trademarks: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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