From the Desk of Billy Hensley

The Effect of Financial Literacy and Education on Downstream Financial Behaviors

Q&A with Billy Hensley, NEFE Director of Education, About NEFE-Funded Research on Effectiveness of Financial Education

Funding a study that questions the efficacy of the work of your field might seem like a risky venture. For NEFE, it was an opportunity to advance the overall efforts of financial educators. We sat down with Billy Hensley, Ph.D., director of education at NEFE, to discuss the impact of the NEFE-funded research project, The Effect of Financial Literacy and Financial Education on Downstream Financial Behaviors.

What does this research mean for NEFE and for the financial literacy field?
This research gives both NEFE and the field a greater understanding of the level of effectiveness of personal finance education. As an organization that provides educational interventions and resources, NEFE wants to make sure that the way we educate learners is impactful and relevant. The financial literacy field has greater evidence about the importance of making our instructive efforts timely and relevant to the populations we serve. In addition, this study illustrates where improvements can be made to research protocols and to the content and context of financial education intervention.

What surprised you most about the research findings?
There were several points that surprised me, including how intuitive the discussion was on the importance of timely and relevant education. The surprise is not that financial education interventions should be timely, but that the data clearly demonstrated this. I’ve always felt that the best research confirms common sense; this meta-analysis does just that.

What prompted you to fund something that challenges the way financial education is administered?
It’s important to not become complacent in our work. NEFE staff and NEFE board members were interested in funding a research project that would provide a more accurate display of the research seeking to measure personal finance behavior change. The time was right for the first-ever meta-analysis within our field. However, I want to be clear that this project is not a devaluation of previous reviews of research; this grant reviewed previous work with a more comprehensive and objective analysis.

Why did you choose to build the 2013 Education Forum around this research?
It’s essential for people from various research, theoretical, governmental, and practitioner points of view to thoroughly discuss what these findings mean and how they can inform the work of our field going forward. It would have been easy for NEFE to place the report on the shelf and move on to the next project; however, that is not the NEFE way of doing things. By having this discussion with multiple thought leaders from various points of view in the field, the articulated next steps have greater depth.

How do you plan to use these findings in future research and program initiatives at NEFE?
Naturally, this project will inform future grant funding, specifically leading us to focus on addressing gaps in the research literature. I do feel that there are many things happening on the local and regional levels that impact consumers that have yet to be captured, studied, or evaluated in a peer-reviewed forum. So, NEFE will continue to encourage and help people understand the need for effective program evaluation.

In 2010, NEFE sponsored The Quarter Century Project, which gathered experts to discuss the past 25 years of research in financial education. Learn more at www.nefe.org/quartercenturyproject.

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]