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  • Pop culture can be a great way to engage Hispanic Gen Yers
  • Pop culture can be a great way to engage Hispanic Gen Yers
    Jon Gurinsky (2016) ©
CASE STUDY

My Money My Future: educating the underbanked one meme at a time

The underbanked represents more than 88 million individuals and nearly $1.3 trillion in wages. And young people of colour make up a large proportion of this, despite their size and spending power. How is My Money My Future reaching out to this group using technology and pop culture?

Location United States

Scope
Talking about Kanye West's rumoured bankruptcy may not sound hugely educational, but a new digital finance platform begs to differ. It actually provides a great gateway to get underbanked Gen Yers to talking about finances. Mi Dinero Mi Futuro or My Money My Future is an online resource for underbanked Gen Yers of colour to build financial confidence and learn how to manage their money.

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“There are nearly 80 million Gen Yers in the US, almost half of them – 42% – are ‘non-white’ and those are considered to be primarily underserved,” says Ramona Ortega, CEO and co-founder of My Money My Future. “They generally come from communities and demographics that have a financial wealth gap. They have less wealth than the average American, they come out of school with more debt, they don't have as much access to financial education tools and products. And so we came to the idea to give them the information that they need when they need it.” [1]

When users open an account, they get access to data aggregation around their bank account information. This is reflected in simple, easy to understand modules around what they are spending and where their budgets are over or under budgeted. My Money My Future provides check lists to guide them through financial decisions, from improving their credit to understanding how to open a 401k. The platform then provides curated financial products that they can choose from when they take action on that particular issue.

The platform puts a particular focus on creating content to capture the attention of underbanked Gen Yers – particularly those of Hispanic heritage. “I would say 30-40% of our business is producing financial content focused on this particular market,” says Ortega. The content is a typical Gen Yers dream – full of GIFs, memes and pop references. Articles like ‘So Kanye’s broke, what does that really mean?’ sit alongside ‘’Six Steps for Millennials to Save $10K in a Year’ and ‘’Money Motivation: Surprise Expenses You Won’t See Coming.’ The content is designed to be clear to young people who may not have had much exposure to financial services. “We make it super simple,” says Ortega. “So we take out all the jargon, we take out the complexities of finance and we break it down in a way that really makes it understandable.” [1]

My Money, My Future uses content to present finance in a simple and relatable way
My Money, My Future (2016) ©

Context
In 2015, 22.7 million Hispanic Americans – that is 42% of the total US Hispanic population – fell into Gen Y. This represents 27% of all US Gen Yers. [2] And the state of personal finance is changing largely in part to millennials and lower-income households. These groups are less likely to use traditional banking methods than ever before, leading to a rise in unbanked and underbanked individuals. In fact, 40% of consumers ages 18 and older were unbanked as of 2015 – over four times the amount seen in 2008. [3]

Because they aren’t targeted by banks, the underbanked don’t have much access to financial education. Only 17% of Latino Gen Yers are likely to turn to a bank for financial information or advice, instead opting for guidance from family and friends. [4] “People understand health insurance and they understand car insurance because it's mandated by law,” says Ortega. “They don't think necessarily about all the other types, like renters insurance or asset insurance. It's just not part of the values and cultural upbringing that a lot of middle income millennials have in their home.” [1]

Some companies are already targeting the underbanked. Mobile first Juno targets Gen Yers, helping them to see where their money goes, manage their money better and transfer it with ease. Meanwhile, Fundera connects small business owners with resources around loan consultation and managing finances. And Camino Insights – the blog portion of Camino Financial Resources, a bilingual resource for Latinos – provides useful blog posts on how to manage money and maintain good credit. Some major players are also getting involved. “Banks are getting more creative and thoughtful about how they target unbanked and underbanked customers," says Judd Caplain, KPMG's Advisory Industry Leader for Banking and Diversified Financials. [5]

Many young people of colour are ignored by traditional banks
Jon Gurinsky (2016) ©

Insights and opportunities
Tech savvy and using social media heavily, Hispanic Gen Yers are plugged into pop culture. They are 66% more likely to connect to the internet via a mobile, and Latinos watch an average of over eight hours of online video content per month. [6] And My Money My Future uses this to it’s advantage. “We're very pop culture, and try to embed the messages around money,” says Ortega. [1] “So as an example, Kim Kardashian getting her ring stolen is currently trending online. That’s a great entry point to talk about why we need insurance. We'd say 'Hey you may not have bling like Kim Kardashian, but if you do have jewelry, here's how you might want to insure it.' And then we can get them to talk and understand a bit more about why you would buy any insurance.”

My Money My Future is speaking to this demographic at the right time. “Millennials, especially Latinos and African Americans are the generation of 'I'm the first',” explains Ortega. [1] “So they're thinking I'm the first lawyer in my family or I'm the first businesswoman. There's definitely a sense that they are finally moving up the ladder and this generation is the first to do it. There's a sense that you can accomplish a lot, especially given more access to higher education.” The number of Latino college students is rising – in 2014, 35% of Hispanics aged 18 to 24 were enrolled in a two- or four-year college, up from 22% in 1993. [7] And The National Center for Education Statistics projects a 42% increase in Hispanic-American college students by 2021. [8] As these individuals enter the workplace, they are likely to be earning more – making it more important than ever that they have knowledge around financial services.

Banks are getting more creative and thoughtful about how they target unbanked and underbanked customers,

Judd Caplain, KPMG's Advisory Industry Leader for Banking and Diversified Financials

“No one is really speaking to the needs of women in finance as customers,” says Ortega. 71% of women say that Wall Street is not in touch with the financial needs and concerns of women and more than nine out of ten women feel sold to, rather than educated by financial service companies. [9] “I don't think it's a surprise when people say that women want something different from financial services.And so do people of colour, because we have different experiences with money, different nuances, different morals around money and investment strategies.” [1]

So how can financial services better cater to these demographics? “I think it's understanding that it's not just about the product, it's about an experience,” says Ortega. [1] “And this is not new news. If you think about traditional financial advisors, that's what they've done, but they’ve done it with a very particular demographic in mind. If you look at the commercials, it's speaking to older, wealthy, white men. What they need to do is figure out how to talk to people in different places with different experiences.” 

“We are targeting those that the financial institutions believe don't have assets. That's part of the problem, their net worth right now may not be large, but their buying power is big, and growing.” [1] Considering the ‘underserved’ market represents more than 88 million individuals and nearly $1.3 trillion in wages, there is huge space for services to start drawing them in. [10]

midineromifuturo.com

Rebecca Smith is a Psychology graduate from the University of Bristol. She’s previously worked on schemes promoting the open discussion of mental health issues among young people.

Sources
1. Interview with Ramona Ortega conducted by author
2. 'Hispanic Millennials require New Marketing Strategies', Target Latin (May 2012)
3. 'Why the US population of unbanked and underbanked is growing', Chexx Inc (February 2016)
4. 'Financial Happiness Eludes Latino Millennials according to Financial Education Millennial Survey', Latinovations (September 2014)
5.'Lenders Target 'Underbanked' Customers', The Wall Street Journal (July 2014)
6. 'The Flama: Buzzfeed for Latino Gen Yers', Canvas8 (April 2016)
7. '5 facts about Latinos and education', PEW Research Centre (July 2016)
8. 'The State of Latinos in U.S. Higher Education', The Huffington Post (June 2015)
9. 'Women feel disconnected from financial services', Canvas8 (March 2016)
10. 'Rethinking the Potential of the Underbanked Segment', The Financial Brand (July 2014)

Author
Rebecca Smith