Teach Future Customers to Save

By Kate Young

Worried about brand awareness? Step back for a moment and consider the substantial population that desperately needs better bank awareness. If you’re among the many bank industry professionals concerned about how to engage the millennial generation, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait until the generation after it comes of age.

According to FDIC data, 7.7% of U.S. households were unbanked in 2013. That’s almost 9.6 million households, representing 16.7 million adults and 8.7 million children. We’re looking at nearly 10 million children who are unlikely to learn about banking by modeling their parents’ behavior. This makes them more likely to grow up unaware of the risks and costs of unconventional financial services—which continue to crop up like mushrooms. And that figure doesn’t even count the many more children who come from banked households, but still don’t have opportunities to learn about responsible money management and the ways banks can help.

Sometimes the needs of an industry align perfectly with the needs of the greater community.

Banks need young people to understand the value of banking just as much as young people need to learn how to save. Teach Children to Save is an opportunity to serve both these causes. This national program, sponsored by the ABA Community Engagement Foundation, supports banker volunteers who want to teach basic financial skills to young people in a classroom setting.

Why should bankers be involved? “If you want to learn about fire safety you consult a fireman,” explained Jeni Pastier of the ABA Community Engagement Foundation. “If you have health questions, you talk to a doctor.” It makes sense then, most of all to kids, to learn about money matters from someone whose job centers on money management.

Teach Children to Save equips bankers with user-friendly resources that teach children financial skills through activities, interactive scenarios, and real-world experiences. The curriculum is designed to be fun and engaging for both the students and the bankers, bringing money management to life using a step-by-step format.

The official date for Teach Children to Save Day is April 29, 2016, but events take place across April and throughout the school year.

Here are a few examples:

Bankers Who Taught on a Grand Scale

Earlier this school year, Cincinnati Public Schools welcomed more than 300 volunteers from 11 area banks to teach lessons on the importance of saving to almost every seventh and eighth grader in the school system.

Led by Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank, participating banks included Chase, Citi, the Federal Reserve, First National, Huntington, KeyBank, Park National, PNC, Republic and U.S. Bank.

Together, they reached more than 155 classrooms in 20 district schools, and more than 4,000 students. This all took place in a single day, September 16, and served a single mission: to improve the state of financial literacy among America’s youth.

“Our local banking community understands that lives are improved when individuals have the tools and knowledge they need to successfully manage their finances,” said Tim Elsbrock, Market President for Fifth Third Bank. “We also understand that, like so much in life, the sooner good financial habits are adopted, the more likely they are to continue in life.”

Political Pairings

This month in Tennessee, Jim Schmitz and Brittney Cline of Regions Bank joined U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper at Neely’s Bend Elementary in Nashville. The objective: to teach a lesson in financial education to the school’s first graders.

“The key to helping children understand how to manage money is to begin speaking with them while they’re young,” said Schmitz, Middle Tennessee Area President for Regions Bank. “We work with schools throughout Tennessee to support financial education that meets the needs of individual classrooms. For younger students, it may be a basic introduction to money concepts. For older students, we dive deeper into budgeting, investing, managing a credit score and more.”

Cooper, who represents Tennessee’s 5th District, pointed out that it’s never too early to learn about saving.

Meanwhile, in Edison, New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Edison Mayor Tom Lankey, and Magyar Bank’s CEO John Fitzgerald teamed up to teach money management to the sixth grade class at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

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“As a Community Bank, we take pride in taking an active role in programs such as these, where we have an opportunity to teach children how to handle their money,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.

ABA encourages bankers to reach out to their local congressmen and congresswomen as potential partners for Teach Children to Save events. Such partnerships help shine a spotlight on the importance of financial education.

Financial Education Goes Digital

Not all banks rely on ABA Foundation resources for their educational outreach programs. At McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, students learn fundamental money management skills through a digital program provided by a partnership between Regions Bank and Washington, D.C.-based EverFi, Inc.

These lessons reach students at a critical moment in their lives, when they need to understand credit scores, plan for financing college, and learn how to budget. Students who have completed the course report that they understand banking better and enjoy increased confidence managing their money.

Jon Davies, Regions Bank’s head of Community Affairs, emphasizes the value of being involved in the program, and not simply contributing the funding for it. “Our partnership between Regions and EverFi is a perfect example of that, where we mutually work together for the betterment of the community,” he said. “For financial education, for our young people, for adults, it shows we are doing more.”

Kate Young is the content editor of ABABankMarketing.com. Email: kyoung@aba.com

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