ABA Perspective

Personal Finance for the Pandemic Era: Why Bankers Should Deliver Fin Ed Lessons Today

Rob Nichols, President and CEO American Bankers Association

Te pandemic has forced many lessons on us, not the least of which is the importance of being prepared. I don’t mean being-well-stocked-on- toilet-paper prepared. I mean having the ability and resources to survive an uncertain and even perilous period. For businesses, that clearly requires having a well-craſted and tested business continuity plan. For households, the most important preparedness tool may be a well-funded savings account.

Tose who may not have fully appreciated this before COVID-19 certainly understand it now. In fact, a Bank Rate survey this summer found that Americans’ top financial regret is not having enough emergency savings to withstand the crisis, followed closely by not having enough retirement savings.

Tis presents an important opportunity for banks, which can — and should — help support both


established and fledgling savers as they pursue their savings goals. Nothing is more fundamental to financial wellness than savings.

Given the massive economic dislocation caused by the pandemic, this may seem an odd time to exhort others to save. Many are suffering from loss of income and find it challenging to pay their expenses; how can they possibly set aside money for a rainy day when it’s already pouring? But there’s reason to view this as the ultimate teachable moment and an ideal time to convert lessons into action.

In a July survey of hourly workers (by DailyPay and Funding Our Future), 51 percent said they are more likely to save for the future coming out of the pandemic as opposed to 15 percent who said they were less likely to do so. Meanwhile, 65 percent said they don’t have any type of savings account, and 62 percent said they would be able to save more

if there was an easier way to set aside a portion of their paycheck.

Tese data point to a clear demand for information and tools to facilitate savings, and banks are a reliable source for both.

To help banks meet that demand — and prevent financial regrets in the first place by teaching financial fundamentals to today’s youth and young adults — the American Bankers Association Foundation has adapted its financial capability programming for today’s virtual world. Teach Children to Save lessons went virtual in April, and Get Smart About Credit, our fall program, also has been adjusted to include new resources and notes for delivering effective virtual presentations, as well as new modules around saving for the unexpected.

We all know that strong personal finance skills are essential to success in life. In fact, a majority of respondents

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