Financial literacy study released

Bank on Fresno hopes to educate the Hispanic community through advertising campaigns on Univision 21 Fresno.

This year, as consumers have tightened their belts in response to the current economic climate, agencies throughout Fresno have joined together to raise financial awareness.

A study conducted by the United Way with help from California State University, Fresno economic professors Dr. Antonio Avalos and Dr. Janice Peterson looked at the financial literacy of Hispanics in Fresno.

The goal was to compile accurate information for the banks about the literacy of the Hispanic community.

“We wanted to provide organizations with good information on the subject so people are not having to rely on what we heard,” Peterson said. “We wanted to give them some solid information.”

The study was funded in part by the United Way of Fresno County, which runs the Bank on Fresno, and by Wells Fargo Bank who granted $60,000 for the study.

The program is an initiative to boost financial education, according to officials.

More than 1,300 Hispanics from the Central Valley were asked about their attitudes toward their finances, their banking and credit relationships and their use of nonbank lenders, mortgage and remittances.

The study found that 45 percent of Hispanic residents wished they knew more about money management compared to only 20 percent of non-Hispanics respondents. The reports also state that less than 21 percent of Hispanics felt confident about their financial future compared to 33 percent of non-Hispanics responders.

With the findings, the Bank on Fresno hopes to educate the Hispanic community by advertising campaigns on television station like Univision 21 Fresno.

The groups are hoping that these techniques will help the banking community and the Hispanic community bridge the gap in the terms of financial stability.

The study concluded that 32.4 percent of Hispanics reported sending money to relatives outside of the United States, while only 2 percent reported sending money every week. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics reported sending money outside the U.S. several times a year.

Roughly 12 percent of Hispanics respondents reported having used a payday lender, compared to 5 percent of non-Hispanics. Hispanics respondents reported they used payday lenders 8.2 times a year, compared to 3.5 times a year by non-Hispanics, according to the study.

Tim Rios, senior vice president and community developmental manager for Wells Fargo bank, said the findings were what the experts believed existed within the Hispanic community.

“Now we have proof of these elements and can address some of them with services and programs that will help Hispanics with their financial knowledge and practices,” Rios said.

The Bank on Fresno is part of an initiative that ensures that every resident has access to mainstream financial institutions. The hope with this study is to inform Hispanics on how to manage their money and also to give them the information that will help them succeed in the financial world.

However, according to Avalos, this problem is not solely unique to the Hispanic population, but also a problem across the United States.

“We are discovering, unfortunately, that the current level of financial literacy around the U.S. is very poor,” Avalos said. “This is our contribution, our small contribution in our community to help fix this problem.”
As for the college community, this study shows that financial literacy is a part of life that most students should start to look into.

“Recognizing young, that you do have a financial life. Understanding credit, understanding the type of banking relationships that you can have,” Peterson said. “ Saving now can make a big difference in your future.”
If you would like to learn more about Bank on Fresno, visit http://www.bankonfresno.ca.gov/

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