Using Tech to Connect to Your Clients’ Kids and Grandkids

Tanya Van Court | Goalsetter

By Tanya Van Court is CEO & Founder of Goalsetter

Tanya Van Court | Goalsetter

Fueled by a passion for technology, I charted my early career in Silicon Valley when it was just emerging as the hotbed of innovation.  I learned how to use email in 1990 at Stanford University, where we were given campus email accounts and required to correspond with our professors using this nascent technology.   After earning two degrees in Engineering from Stanford and securing a coveted engineering role at a Silicon Valley start-up, I was given a healthy stock grant. But while Stanford had gifted me with my first email address and technological prowess, not a single class before or during my tenure had covered personal finance.  

Unaware of diversification and the tech bubble’s fragility, I watched my entire stock portfolio vanish in a single day.

This experience exposed a gap in my financial literacy. It was a sobering wake-up call, but one that ignited a mission to ensure my children would be equipped with the financial knowledge they needed to navigate the world.

Fast forward a few years, and my daughter, Gabrielle, surprised me at the age of eight by asking for an investment account. I had always talked openly with her about finances but this particular request sparked a question: How was I going to explain this complex financial concept in a way that was both age-appropriate and engaging? 

When I couldn’t find many fun or engaging tools to teach my kids about financial literacy, I decided to start Goalsetter, a family finance program and financial app empowering individuals of all ages to confidently navigate the finance world. 

The Worrying State of Financial Literacy

My story isn’t unique. The state of financial literacy is a growing concern that affects millions of individuals and has far-reaching consequences. A significant portion of the population, spanning across generations, lacks the essential knowledge and skills needed to make informed financial decisions.

Here at Goalsetter, we recently set out to study the true state of American financial literacy. Our research project titled “Are You (Financially) Smarter than a 12th Grader?” revealed that financial illiteracy exists even at the most prestigious academic institutions. The study surveyed over 300 Ivy League students and found that most respondents struggled with basic concepts like budgeting, debt management, and how to properly save for retirement. 

Participants were asked to complete a 15-question online quiz aligned with and Council for Economic Education (CEE) national K-12 standards for financial literacy standards. Some concepts on the quiz included: 

  • How to save and invest, including emergency funds, the benefits of compound interest, and the basic concepts of investing, like the Rule of 72.
  • Identifying the risks and consequences of debt, including credit cards, loans, and interest rates. 
  • Understanding credit scores and how they impact personal financial decisions and credit

The results? Failing grades across the board. On average, students scored 51% on the financial literacy quiz, with underclassmen scoring even lower at 48%. In fact, only 13% of quiz takers scored above what would be considered a C- on the quiz.

Another interesting insight is that 93% of students surveyed have a debit card, but only 48% understood the power of compound interest, pointing to a lack of understanding of a core investing principle. An even lower percentage of respondents (47%) knew the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting. Our takeaway here is that respondents know how to spend, but many don’t know how to save. And, there’s more work to be done to elevate financial education. 

The Advisor’s Role in Bridging the Gap

Financial advisors are uniquely positioned to bridge the financial literacy gap. By offering turnkey educational resources and fostering multigenerational relationships, advisors can build trust, loyalty, and lay the foundation for long-term financial success for their clients. It’s more than just good business; it’s a path toward economic stability for generations to come.  

With a massive intergenerational wealth transfer of over $84.4 trillion expected by 2045, a financially literate future generation is crucial. Equipping future wealth builders, particularly Gen Z and Alpha, with foundational financial knowledge early on is the key.

At Goalsetter, we recognize the vital role advisors play in financial education. We’re actively building partnerships with advisory firms to address the financial literacy gap. We provide advisors with a suite of short, engaging educational videos along with an award-winning app all designed to bridge the gap between financial advisors and the tech-savvy generation.

Our partnership efforts are growing and our cause is recognized and supported by industry luminaries and celebrities alike. Most recently, NBA player Chris Paul, Oakland Fund for Public Innovation, and Nike challenged students to take the quiz (see video here). With their support, now, 1,400 Oakland, CA-based students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades will be exposed to financial literacy. 

Together, through innovative digital tools and strategic partnerships, we can ensure financial literacy becomes the cornerstone of a secure future for all. We‘ll create stronger bonds with the next generation and pave the way for a future where wealth is not just built but sustained.

The use of the Goalsetter app requires a mobile phone with access to the internet. Message and data fees apply. Goalsetter is a financial technology company and not a bank.  Banking services offered by Goalsetter are provided by Webster Bank, N.A., Member FDIC. Cashola Prepaid Debit Mastercard® is issued by Pathward, N.A., Member FDIC pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard and the circles design are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated. Fees may apply. See terms and conditions for details.Investment advice is provided by Goalsetter Gold and investments in your Goalsetter Gold account are not FDIC INSURED, NOT BANK GUARANTEED and MAY LOSE VALUE.


  2. Goalsetter is the recipient of the FinTech Best Personal Finance Product award published March 17, 2022 for the period of January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. Participation in the review is voluntary and requires a logo usage fee of $3,000 USD. FinTech Breakthrough’s criteria assess participating personal finance apps on 6 variables: Innovation, Performance, Ease of Use, Functionality, Value and Impact. Awards are awarded based on the opinions of FinTech Breakthrough’s panel of judges.