There’s a push from regulators to educate consumers. If you’re in banking you’ve heard of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). It was set up as a response to the recent financial crisis and began operation in 2011. Financial education doesn’t just need to be a nicety that you provide to your customers, it can be something that helps you both generate leads and get more out of your website at a time when branch traffic is declining.
The CFPB has three goals: Educate, enforce, study.
They say, “Above all, this means ensuring that consumers get the information they need to make the financial decisions they believe are best for themselves and their families—that prices are clear up front, that risks are visible, and that nothing is buried in fine print.”
Regulators want consumers to be educated about their finances. Banks and credit unions not only have an opportunity to provide financial education (and make the regulators happy), but they can leverage this service to start important dialogues with their customers.
People need information that’s easy-to-understand and financial institutions are in a place to be able to provide it. Your customers have the option of getting this info from someone else, OR they can get it directly from you.
Financial Education Benefits
1) Expand feature-set of website
Today, online and mobile banking are all about transactions. It is orders of magnitude more convenient for your customers to perform day-to-day transactions online. No driving to the branch, no filling out a deposit slip, just take a photo of a check and deposit it.
Banks and CUs are offering these great services, but they haven’t yet been able to refocus this online, transactional relationship as something more. Your website can be more than a place for convenient transactions. Educational content can help keep your customers engaged while helping to define your bank as a resource.
2) Instill loyalty
Everyone values a good teacher and consumers want to do business with businesses that are pro-consumer. You want your customers to be able to say to themselves, “These people are on my side.”
Educational content can be a powerful value-added service. If you’re able to be seen as a resource, your customers will want to stick with you.
3) Create awareness of brand, products and services
Content shines when it’s properly delivered and a good piece of content can work through digital and physical channels. Tweet your content, post it to Facebook, email it to customers and have it available in the branch.
If you provide financial education through these channels you have the opportunity to put your brand on it, but you aren’t promoting a product. You’re creating awareness by sharing information.
Traditional ads have a place, but content allows you to put trust before the sale. Additionally, 90% of consumers who have a good educational content experience are likely to recommend it to a friend. The potential to get your content shared on social media is huge.
4) Generate sales
Content starts dialogues. Everyone wants to be seen as smart and informed. People want to feel equipped to converse when dealing with financial topics. Educational content helps people to be able to understand their financial needs and how to meet them.
The best content prioritizes education, but as branch traffic lowers (3 out of 10 people haven’t been in a branch in the last 6 months) banks need to find new ways to generate sales. Content can be developed to link users to specific branch employees and get a conversation started. It’s these conversations that are going to get people back into the branch and generate sales.
Food for thought as we kick off Financial Literacy Month
The CFPB just might be on to something with their push to educate consumers and simplify financial jargon. People are looking for easy-to-understand answers and they’ll buy from the one who provides them. Banks and credit unions have every reason to be on board with providing financial education. You can leverage all your channels (web, social, mobile, branch, call center) to provide an essential service to your customers, setting the stage for more meaningful dialogues.