Consumers’ financial aspirations do not meet reality, as the 2018 FIS PACE™ report firmly demonstrated. Fortunately for banks, financial education not only can narrow that gap, it also allows financial institutions to differentiate themselves, reward customers and give back to their communities.
Great Need for Financial Education
Only about half of United States consumers answering 30 questions on the U.S. National Financial Literacy test sponsored by the Financial Literacy Council passed the test, which is designed to measure individuals’ abilities to earn, save and grow their money.
Worldwide, nearly 60 countries are using financial education to help consumers improve their economic and social well-being. Following policies developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Network on Financial Education, the countries are working to diagnose the needs of their populations and then provide appropriate financial education to address them.
Financial Institutions Are Positioned to Educate
Trust is the No. 1 attribute that consumers value in a banking relationship. Fortunately, consumers trust their own financial institutions. According to PACE, 96 percent of consumers say that their primary banking provider ensures their transactions are safe and secure. And, 94 percent say that their banking provider protects the privacy of their personal information.
PACE findings also reveal that consumers favor digital contact over personal when it comes to their banking providers. Overall, 72 percent of banking contacts are digital. That number jumps more than 20 percentage points when it comes to millennials, however. That’s important because a large percentage of millennials struggle with personal finances and only 24 percent demonstrate adequate financial knowledge. Fortunately, digital makes delivering financial education economically feasible, even for small financial institutions.
Six Things to Keep in Mind
- Remember that timing is key. Financial messages are best received when they intersect with consumer recognition of new needs, such as changing life events – going to college, getting married, having children, losing a job, etc.
The financial education section of Ally Bank’s website shows a life journey map, which points out opportunities and pitfalls customers may face. It then guides them to tools and solutions that can help.
- Provide multiple delivery methods to tailor learning. Financial institutions that provide multiple ways to learn expand their potential audiences and facilitate inclusion.
A common program used by some community banks and credit unions delivers financial education through a wide variety of communications – articles, videos, podcasts, booklets, tools and chat. Some services also are offered in Spanish and for hearing impaired persons.
- Take a page from online retailers. Browsing an e-commerce site often results in follow up emails and popups as the retailer attempts to convert browsers into buyers. If someone is looking at your website for loan rates, it’s the perfect time to push communications that offer education about how loans work, the importance of rates and terms, and consumer rights regarding borrowing.
- Benchmark leaders in financial education. The best sites enable easy navigation to specific information and tools from which consumers can pick and choose according to their individual needs.
Capital One’s financial education site is extensive and filled with resources. Part of the site is organized according to life events where users can easily navigate to relevant information. Users also can dig deeper into subject areas such as how to use credit wisely. The bank’s financial literacy programs and tutorials even encourage parents and children to talk and learn about finances.
Source: Capital One
- Keep regulators happy with transparency. Financial institutions can score points with regulators by providing clear, plain-language content that informs consumers about their rights and protections.
- Evolve your financial education content and delivery methods. Tracking response to financial education communications and programs helps hone content and increase its relevancy in served communities.
The Rewards of Financial Education
The FIS PACE report points out that the biggest chink in the armor of banking providers continues to be a perception that consumers are not rewarded enough for their business. Welcoming new customers or rewarding current customers with access to financial education – for example, a free consultation with a financial advisor – can help close the gap between expectations and perceptions while supporting customer acquisition and retention goals.