Panel Paper: How Communities of Color Are Meeting Financial Needs

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 1:45 PM
Georgetown II (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Marisabel Torres1, Jane Duong2 and Lindsay Daniels1, (1)National Council of La Raza, (2)The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
Studies have shown that Communities of Color, particularly low-income families, are at a higher risk of being targeted for predatory financial practices, not as a result of their own choice, but as a result of the lack of access to financial products and services that can help them grow their assets, build wealth, and become financially secure.  However, there has been a lack of comprehensive research that examines how the Communities of Color represented by the ASOC coalition are meeting daily and long-term financial needs.  

The goal of the ASOC research is to obtain survey results that provide a snapshot of Communities of Color at a state level that can be compared to national data on these communities' access to financial services and products. The results from the survey will be used to illustrate how the financial market is currently serving individuals and communities of color, how technology is used in banking transactions, and what these communities' overall perceptions and attitudes toward banking and financial services and products are. The ASOC research also ties-in to immigration reform. Citizenship is increasingly recognized as a conduit for financial stability and economic prosperity, and for many low-income immigrants, attaining citizenship is a crucial step towards improving their social, civic and economic well-being, as well as that of their children and families. Low-income immigrants will need access to tools and resources that promote savings and help them avoid excessive debt that will inhibit future financial opportunities. Moreover, they will need objective financial advice and information that will assist them in making sound decisions, which puts them on track to save for citizenship.

The key research questions ASOC aims to answer through this research include:

  1. How are ASOC communities transacting their daily financial lives? What kind of services are affiliate clients using? Why are clients choosing certain services over others? When choosing traditional banking services, what are the barriers to using them more effectively?
  2. What impact does technology have on these communities when accessing financial services? Is technology a barrier or a pathway towards accessing financial products?
  3. Where do these communities go for financial information, and are people aware of the use and impact of credit? On what topics do people want/need more information?
  4. Are there certain cultural drivers or differences in these communities regarding what services people want? How can the different communities be adequately served?

The survey results will serve two key purposes:

  1. Data collected from participating ASOC affiliate organizations will be returned to the groups, helping them understand the financial needs of, and better serve, their clients. Nationally, the ASOC organizations will use the survey results to develop a program model around asset-building, financial services, and financial coaching that can be implemented through the affiliates in communities of color around the country.
  2. Inform policy recommendations for a national policy agenda to foster greater financial access underserved communities. The survey findings will be used to advance national policy and advocacy on the financial inclusion of underserved communities.