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There's a need for financial inclusion in United States, social welfare professor says

Thu, 10/29/2015

LAWRENCE — The Center for Financial Inclusion has designated Monday, Nov. 2, through Friday, Nov. 6, as Financial Inclusion Week in an effort to raise awareness worldwide of the importance and value of extending access to financial services to everyone. Known as FI2020, the effort is coordinating events around the world to highlight the value of improved financial access for all.

Terri Friedline, assistant professor of social welfare at the University of Kansas, is available to speak with media about FI2020, the value of financial inclusion, factors influencing financial exclusion, financial education and many related topics. Friedline, faculty director of Financial Inclusion at the Center on Assets, Education and Inclusion in KU's School of Social Welfare, said financial inclusion is critical for helping Americans to manage their day-to-day lives and plan for their futures — participating in life to the fullest extent possible.

“People sometimes ask, ‘Why should we care about financial inclusion in the U.S.? Almost everyone has a bank account, and bank branches are everywhere.' But financial inclusion is more than just owning a bank account — even though opening an account is an important first step,” Friedline said. “A person still needs access to a range of financial products and services, like checking accounts, savings accounts, stocks, retirement accounts and loans. Sometimes a person’s bad credit history prevents them from opening a bank account, and so they resort to using high-cost prepaid cards or payday lenders. Or they have a bank account, but it has a zero dollar balance. Due to discriminatory lending practices, a person may not get a mortgage with a low interest rate. These experiences are all too common and can actually push Americans’ life goals farther out of reach. So much more work is needed to achieve full financial inclusion in the U.S.”

Friedline has conducted and published extensive research on financial inclusion. Her recent work has shown that hometown can have a larger influence on whether young adults and college students have credit card debt, and earlier this year she authored a study showing that millennials have better financial health when they have access to and experience with financial services in addition to financial education than just education on its own. She also published a study in 2014 showing that early access to a savings account is important as individuals with an account are more likely to own checking, stock and retirement accounts and accumulate more assets and that individuals who do not have an account by the age of 18 are unlikely to start one.

To schedule an interview with Friedline, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or mkrings@ku.edu.



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