5 Key Financial Education Trends in 3Q21

Numerous surveys continue to highlight financial literacy gaps among U.S. adults and children, illustrating the ongoing need for financial education programs (according to a Step survey, 97% of teens believe that financial literacy is important). Many financial firms and their partners have been at the forefront in developing and distributing innovative financial education programs. The following are noteworthy financial education trends in the 3rd quarter of 2021.

  1. Build engagement with younger segments through financial education programs and content. Firms are looking at a wide range of channels to reach younger demographics:
    • HSBC created a new world in Minecraft – Fintropolis – designed to improve financial literacy.
    • Bank of America launched a 7-part series on YouTube that aims to share financial know-how with both parents and students.
  2. Develop financial education partnerships with associations and advocacy groups.
    • OneMain Financial partnered with EverFi to launch the Money LaunchPad financial literacy program for students in grades 9 to 12.
    • BancorpSouth committed $1.5 million to Operation HOPE for financial literacy programs and announced six additional HOPE Inside locations.
  3. Target specific consumer segments with financial education programs and thought leadership tailored to their unique needs, including:
    • LGBTQ: Capital One published an article, “The Debt Free Guys: Financial Obstacles Facing LGBTQ+ People”, and Ally published an article on “Financial Considerations for LGBTQ+ Couples.”
    • Couples: Ally Bank launched a marketing campaign targeting couples’ fears over the “Money Talk”, and Morgan Stanley listed “6 Money Questions to Ask Your Partner Before You Commit.”
    • Widows and Widowers: MassMutual published “A financial checklist for widows and widowers.”
  4. Brand financial education programs to bring together various financial education initiatives as well as raise consumer awareness and engagement. Recent examples:
    • Charles Schwab launched MoneyWise America™ program for teens.
    • Regions introduced the Next Step podcast, the latest resources from the bank’s Next Step financial education program.
    • Capital One launched the Money & Life program, which builds on its former Money Coaching program.
  5. Position financial education as part of broader ESG and CSR initiatives. Financial education efforts are now more prominently featured in financial firms’ annual ESG and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports.

Credit card issuers show renewed interest in private-label cards

In recent months, some leading credit card issuers have shown a growing interest in creating or growing private-label credit card portfolios:

  • Capital One announced the acquisition of HSBC’s $30 million card portfolio in August 2011.  This follows its April 2011 purchase of Kohl’s private-label portfolio.  In reporting 3Q11 financials, Capital One indicated that it would be interested in acquiring more private-label portfolios.
  • This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo is actively exploring whether to issue private label cards
  • In reporting 3Q11 financials, Citigroup announced that it would be moving its private-label card portfolio from Citi Holdings (it asset-disposal unit) to Citicorp.  And it recent renewed its private-label card issuing deals with Shell, Sunoco and Sears.
  • TD Bank has recently entered into a number of deals to issue cards for: Cartier; Furniture First; and Bailey, Banks and Biddle.

There are a number of reasons for issuers’ renewed interest in this market:

  • Credit quality metrics have improved significantly in recent quarters, for both own-branded and private-label cards, with very strong declines in charge-off and delinquency rates.  For example, the net credit loss rate for Citi’s Retail Partner Cards portfolio fell from 12.24% in 3Q10 to 7.51% in 3Q11.  During the same period, the portfolio’s delinquency rate fell from 7.94% to 5.70%.
  • With loan-to-deposit ratios now well below 100% for many leading banks, and with continued pressure on net interest margins, banks are looking to grow loans in new categories
  • Given the recent growth in commercial and corporate lending, banks are also seeking to cement relationships with large corporate clients
  • The CARD Act has impacted revenues and profitability from issuers’ own-branded card operations.  As a result, some issuers are looking to build scale to their card operations by investing in various card categories

In building their private-label card portfolios, issuers need to understand how the marketing of credit card has changed in recent years.  Today, credit card marketing is more focused on encouraging cardholders to allocate a greater share of their everyday spending to cards, rather than cash or checks.   And even though outstandings are showing some tentative signs of growth, issuers are not aggressively chasing loan growth with aggressive interest rates and low underwriting standards.  In building their private-label portfolios, issuers need to apply these learnings and take the longer-term view, in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.