Industry Must Adapt Financial Education Efforts to Modern Times

13 April, 2015 (10:59) | Blog | By: admin

By Reymundo Ocañas

Anyone who’s seen a toddler confidently scroll through screens on a tablet computer knows this: today’s children are growing up as digital natives. Their favorite apps teach them to read. They chat with the grandparents on Skype. When the time comes, they will no doubt bank in ways that have yet to be discovered.

BBVA Compass’ parent company, BBVA, made a big step in planning ahead for this generation when it purchased the digital banking service pioneer Simple. The Portland, Ore.-based startup brings to BBVA what my CEO called “the first pillar of one of the first native Internet banking systems.”

We also recognize that while it’s smart business to understand where and how this generation will be banking, we have an equal obligation to teach them how to manage their money responsibly. To do that, the banking industry needs to adapt its financial education efforts to the changing times.

We decided at BBVA Compass to incorporate computer and tablet platforms into our financial education programs. This allows today’s children to become familiar with managing their money through the ways that are most convenient and comfortable to them — online banking, mobile apps, even specialized ATMs, like our remote-teller models.

But bringing financial education to students through technology requires funds, which many schools in low-income neighborhoods don’t have. So, in 2013, we paired up with EverFi  to bring its Web-based financial literacy program to more than 10,000 students in markets across our footprint at no cost to the schools. The program, called Vault, allows students to learn through computers and tablets how to make choices in real-life scenarios to best achieve their goals around saving and job planning.

We saw the program succeed through strong participation and completion in all of the schools. That led us to double the program’s reach this year by extending the online curriculum to 25,000 students in nearly 400 schools across 19 markets.

We also realized that while educating children is a clear priority, parents must also be financially savvy to reinforce lessons. So we partnered this year with nonprofits across the U.S. to offer EverFi’s online program for adults, EverFi@Work. With the nonprofits’ assistance, we are able to give adults access to computers so they could take full advantage of the program.

We’ve combined these efforts with standard financial education outreach — through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s Money Smart curriculum, for example, as well as the American Bankers Association Education Foundation’s “Teach Children to Save” and “Get Smart About Credit” programs.

The goal is to meet the financial education needs of everyone in the community — whether it’s the tech-savvy second-grader, the recent high school graduate getting her first checking account or a retiree learning how to stick to a fixed income. We do that by supporting and partnering with schools and community organizations to provide financial education that keeps pace with our changing world. In the end, it allows us to shape the financial lives of children and adults so we can, together, build a better future and stronger communities.

Reymundo Ocañas is director of corporate responsibility and reputation at BBVA Compass.

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