KNOWLEDGE CENTER: The importance of financial access to build confidence in money management skills

Building financial confidence can go a long way in achieving your goals.

Gaining that confidence goes hand-in-hand with having proper access to financial products and services for your needs and feeling comfortable leveraging these resources.

A WSFS Bank study found that 80% in the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region are confident managing their money in general, but 33% have trouble understanding the financial products and services available to them.

Here are ways to build your financial confidence and ensure you have the access needed to succeed.

Financial Lessons

Financial literacy courses in schools are only required in a handful of states, with others working to implement them into tight curriculums.

This has left financial education gaps for many, who had to rely on other sources for lessons. The study found parents or guardians (52%) were the most common source of financial lessons for those in the region, with 35% citing banks or financial service providers, and 30% citing websites, blogs, social media, podcasts and other online sources.

It is important to consider that conversations about money and finances vary across different cultural influences. In some cultures, money and finances were not considered as a topic for life learning experiences or open dialogue. Whether it is with your children, your spouse or your local banker, having open and candid discussions about finances and what tools you need to succeed can go a long way in broadening your money management skills while also passing important lessons along.

This opportunity to learn from lived experiences can help build confidence discussing monetary decisions and reduce anxiety or stress around financial conversations. Incorporating these conversations into your regular routine can have a positive influence on both adults and children.

Saving and money management skills are lifelong and vital to success. There is no one-size-fits-all lesson to build financial confidence for each individual or family, but the earlier and more frequent these lessons, the better.

Accessing Products and Services

Knowledge is power, but having the proper access to banking products and services is just as important in your financial journey.

Three-quarters (74%) in the region felt confident knowing how and where to get the financial products and services they need, and 65% said they are confident knowing which products and services are best for them.

While this confidence level is high, there are areas to improve to ensure all consumers have the access they need. It is vital to provide resources and support for consumers with diverse needs and backgrounds to help members of all communities achieve financial success.

While there are abundant resources available for all learning styles, it is important for banks and financial service providers to meet consumers where they are to provide support and ensure they have access to the tools needed. More specifically, ensuring that banks and financial service providers consider how cultural identity and influences may impact a consumer’s experience with the financial life cycle.

Additional Advice and Tools

More than three-fifths in the region use online banking (64%) and their bank’s mobile app (61%) to help manage their money. While 82% said they have access to the devices and internet needed to manage their money, an access gap still exists for some consumers.

Two-fifths (39%) in the region said free personalized financial advice could help them reach their goals, with 33% saying products and services tailored to their needs and 29% saying sharing financial advice through emails, online or an app could help them.

Wherever you find yourself on your roadmap, I encourage you to look for a bank that is willing to help guide you and can provide you with the tools you need. When thinking about your financial journey, remember to consider where you would like this journey to go. Do you have the resources needed to reach your goals? Who around you is influencing your financial decisions? Make sure you understand your influences personally and culturally.

Although our experiences may shape our financial behaviors, it is important to consider making an appointment to speak with your banker, who can help you learn more about the products and services that best fit your unique needs and help you put a plan in place to achieve your goals.

Michelle Burroughs is senior vice president, chief diversity officer at WSFS Bank. She has 20 years of combined experience in community, risk, operations, diversity, change management, and strategic planning. She is passionate leader driven to promote inclusive organizational culture and has consistently engaged with development of initiatives that assist with enhancing Diversity & Inclusion business practices.

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