Friday, November 16th, 2018
Enhancing Savings Counseling by Redefining Savings Outcomes
Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) offer free 1-1 financial counseling as a public service, without eligibility or dosage requirements. Two FECs tested new definitions, indicators and outcomes for savings with over 300 low-income clients. More pilot clients saw greater savings increases than similar clients who were counseled using traditional protocols. Clients gained greater understanding of and confidence about saving. Counselors spent more time discussing savings. The data better captured the role of financial counselors as coaches and provided constructive guidance for both experienced and new counselors. The pilot reshaped some data collection and counselor training elements of the FEC model.
Questions or Implications for Researchers: This presentation should be of interest to all AFCPE practitioners. Financial counselors and coaches will get ideas about how to help people build savings, and insights into how program requirements may be shaping their counseling practice. Managers and funders will see the impact of measuring and reporting different aspects of savings and learn a process for pilot-testing program innovations. Overall, the implications for the field include confirmation that measuring only the net increase in savings balances over an arbitrary time period may result in under-reporting actual savings achievements, especially for low-income people and those with volatile incomes.