Summary of Profile Breakout Session


In an effort to further understand how young adults and implications for financial education, symposium attendees were assigned to groups and challenged to apply their own knowledge and the information from the presentations to real life situations. Each group was presented with a separate profile and asked to share their experience working with this type of person and how that compared with what they heard at the symposium. They were also asked what kinds of guidance they would offer their “profiled young adult”—and how they would engage interest and action. Groups were encouraged to customize message ideas, resource options, and venues to the profile’s lifestyle, income, values, attitudes, and means for achieving success in small actionable steps. The groups were encouraged to identify ways financial educators can make immediate changes to attract and serve young adults in their communities and classrooms. Finally, groups strategized what kind of research would help the financial educators create more effective outreach to young adults.

While each group’s profiles presented specific challenges, there were several overriding themes that came out of the break out groups. These included:

New Approaches/Challenging Assumptions

  • Financial education needs a strong “brand” and should be brought to the mainstream media so it becomes a relevant topic to young adults. “Weight Watchers” and “The Biggest Loser” were models broached, while another idea was to collaborate among all financial institutions to fund a national public service announcement multimedia campaign.
  • Financial education messaging should be simpler and packaged into “smaller pieces,” since young adults are overwhelmed by the amount of available information. No lecturing.
  • Capitalize on their optimism—messages should be framed as positives, not threatening.
  • Financial educators should take an active role in influencing public policy, filling the holes in the safety net.
  • The workplace needs to take an active role in financial education. Look into “train the trainer” and other workplace opportunities.
  • Focus on “influencing the influencers”—parents, co-workers, bosses, the media, “friends” on social networks.
  • Create rewards for completing financial education programs.
  • Do not create new programs, but promote existing ones and find ways to make them relevant and engaging.
  • Create a financial education clearinghouse that is vetted, reviewed and held accountable by a non-partisan organization as well as users. Also, use the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” model to identify worthy financial education Websites and sources.
  • Help young adults redefine their homeownership dreams. Provide options for setting up a household whether it be staying at your parents’ home to save for the future, living on your own in a rental unit, sharing expenses with a roommate, cohabitating in a committed relationship, or purchasing a home.
  • Make sure you’re teaching the right thing—understand the limits of young adult incomes and deal with their most pressing priorities first

Research: What we need to know

  • Are there models for using financial literacy to motivate people? Study what messages translate into sustainable behavior change. Study young adults with successful financial planning behavior to find out what has worked.
  • What are the public policy needs? How do financial educators become an advocacy force?
  • What are the benefits to employers, credit card companies, and parents of educating young adults on financial issues?
  • What would be the impact on the economy if young adults were provided financial management tools and safety nets that supported their goal of achieving economic self-sufficiency?
  • What are the new learning models that are engaging for young adults—includes social networks, video, mobile technology, gaming and others—and how could financial education plug in to these models?
  • What are the opportunities to make financial education automatically connected to at-risk youth before they reach financial crisis?