Financial health is near and dear to my heart.
In my senior year of college, with funds dwindling, I searched frantically for a part-time job to better afford my groceries and school supplies (and candidly maybe a little bit extra for the bar, too). I landed on an internal business school posting from a company with a weird name called Geezeo, which offered remote work with a flexible schedule.
As someone with a full course load and myriad extracurricular responsibilities – and no car to my name – it sounded perfect.
Journey to Financial Wellness
Little did I know that would be the start of a wild ride.
After performing passably during the interview, which I was told I only received because my interviewer also happened to work at a small-town deli when he was younger (my summer high school work), I got the new job and began to answer end-user questions about Geezeo’s product – a digital financial management tool. I would handle dozens of questions every day from my dorm room over the course of several hours, often late at night.
This role allowed me to become intimately familiar with not just the financial struggles of everyday Americans, but the potential of money management tools to improve their financial health.
When I graduated, I accepted a full-time offer from Geezeo and continued along a financial journey of my own. Working in the financial wellness space, I realized how important a long-term savings strategy is – even if you’re of modest means. I contacted my local on-campus financial institution for options related to retirement savings: an IRA and associated mutual funds.
The institution met with me in person – albeit awkwardly and condescendingly – and set me up with their digital platform. When I logged in later that night to check it out, I was dismayed to find myself staring at a screen straight out of the 1990s. It was so complex and convoluted that I couldn’t even find my account balance or portfolio performance – let alone perform anything useful in there.
The next week I moved all my funds to Betterment.
They still live there today – 11 years later – and I manage all my savings (outside of my employer-provided 401(k)) in their online portal. I’ve even met (via Zoom) with several of their financial advisors when I’ve had life changes and needed a little extra assistance: buying a house, getting married, having my first child, etc.
This story should serve as both a warning and an opportunity regarding how quickly someone can leave when their needs aren’t met, and yet how sticky their relationship can be if provided the right mix of digital tools with personal service.
Meeting the Needs of Your Accountholders
My story is the story of YOUR accountholders right now.
According to recent studies, 40% of Americans have less than $300 in their savings – putting your financial institution in an ideal position to offer solutions to meet the needs of your accountholders.
Here are two recommendations that can help you strengthen the financial health of your consumers:
Getting the Full Financial Picture
Even if you don’t offer retirement or investment accounts – noting that you could always partner with any number of fintech companies in this space who are excited to work with you – understanding the full financial picture of your accountholders is extremely powerful.
Offering your accountholders a holistic view of their financial health positions you as a financial expert – allowing you to offer professional financial services, financial health solutions, expert guidance, and “next-best-product” recommendations.
Understanding the financial health of your accountholders is the first step toward improving their financial lives. What happens next is up to you.
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