Helping Banks Get Better at Financial Literacy

financial services

“The Whole Idea of Being Able to Provide Contextualized, Personalized, Individualized Experiences Is the Premise We Should Be Trying to Get to"

Silo Busting 63: Financial Literacy with Theodora Lau and Alex Jimenez

August 29, 2023
Alex and Theo SB 61 Final

When it comes to financial literacy, many banks and financial institutions claim it’s something they actively prioritize for their customers. In reality, this often tends to be lip service. “Banks like to think they’re doing something in this space….They’ll write a long blog that will sit in a resource page on their website. But if you look at the analytics behind those pages, generally they have very few views. They’re not teaching anything to anyone, and this content is just not visible.” This is the claim of Alex Jimenez, EPAM’s Managing Principal of Financial Services Consulting, as he and Theodora Lau, Founder of Unconventional Ventures, discuss the shortcomings of retail banks when it comes to providing customers with financial literacy and guidance.

“What is their [the bank’s] intention for putting this information out there? Is it just to check a box? Or are they doing it because they genuinely want to help?” asks Lau. If it’s truly the latter, then their efforts are genuinely falling short, especially in this time of unprecedented technological innovation. Worse yet, the one-size-fits-all approach—like an online resource center—fails to address the unique and varied needs of a large swathe of customers. “In the data from a recent survey we conducted, we found that Gen Zers were using physical branches at nearly the same rates as Boomers. It’s because mainly they want to have someone in person to talk to them. And part of that is because we have not done a great job to give young people an understanding of finance,” says Jimenez.

To that extent, banks also need to be cognizant of how they’re training their frontline staff to have financial literacy conversations. Jimenez touches on this, saying, “From a banking side, we also don’t tool our customer-facing employees to be able to do some of this. The philosophy has been, ‘Consumers know us as a bank and therefore will come to us because they trust us and that’s when we can give them guidance about managing their money.’” However, this shortsighted approach can actually leave banks vulnerable to their FinTech and big tech competitors, providing an opening for them to take away market share.

The good news is, there are plenty of opportunities for banks to close this gap with technology. Jimenez says: “My credit card gives me an alert every time I make a purchase. I love that. But every once in a while, I want that alert to be more than just an alert saying, ‘You just spent $100 on Amazon.’ Give me some contextual advice specific to that transaction. That’s the sort of thing that we in the industry could do if we had the wherewithal to do it.”

Right now, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the full Silo Busting conversation. Get clicking!

Host: Mo Banjoko
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Scott MacAllister
Executive Producer: Ken Gordon

Silo Busting 62: Financial Literacy with Theodora Lau and Alex Jimenez
filed in: financial services, education, digital design