Financially empowering consumers
financially empowering consumers
Fifth Third believes that lives are improved when individuals have easy access to traditional banking products and services and have the knowledge and tools they need to make wise financial decisions.
Fifth Third is committed to increasing financial access in the communities it serves, especially in low- and moderate-income (LMI) and high minority communities. One major area of continuing concern is the reliance of many households on non-traditional banking services like money orders, payday loans, auto title loans, refund anticipation loans and pawn shop loans. Utilizing these services in lieu of having an account relationship with a bank is costly, as these products often carry higher interest rates and fees, which put increased stress on household finances.
In November 2015, Fifth Third launched Express Banking to help address this need. Fifth Third's Express Banking account is a depository account that offers check cashing and direct deposit, money orders and cashier's checks, among other services. By the conclusion of 2016, Fifth Third had opened 176,300 Express Banking accounts throughout its footprint. The Express Banking depository account is helping to facilitate financial independence by serving as an entry point into a long-term banking relationship and its features provide a simple and safe way for families to manage finances and build assets.
The rise of financial technology, or fintech, in the industry is helping to increase financial inclusion in the United States. With smartphone usage high among the underbanked (70 percent) and the unbanked (40 percent),** new solutions that facilitate mobile financial transactions are helping to increase financial access. Fifth Third's President and CEO Greg Carmichael has publicly stated that the Company intends to invest in and/or acquire a number of financial technology companies and be an innovator in this space.
Fifth Third CEO Teaches Fifth Third Bank Empower U® Class
President and CEO Greg Carmichael rolled up his sleeves in August to teach a Fifth Third Bank Empower U® class at the Community Action Agency in Dayton, Ohio. The class was taught as part of Fifth Third's month-long effort to financially empower community members through the free offering of four financial education courses.
Carmichael, whose career prior to Fifth Third included leadership in the field of information technology, felt right at home teaching his Company's Protecting Your Identity Empower U class.
Hundreds of Fifth Third team members across the Company's footprint joined their president and CEO in teaching the classes. Fifth Third collaborated with 70 organizations and reached nearly 3,000 people through the effort.
Similarly, Fifth Third is one of the few banks in the United States to offer its customers the ability to use all five major forms of mobile payments.† These mobile wallets allow customers to make in-store purchases with their eligible smartphone devices at participating retailers. Fifth Third offers customers Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, MasterPass, Android Pay and Microsoft Wallet.
The availability of these options is important in light of the fact that Americans made an estimated $27.67 billion in purchases on smartphones in 2016, according to research firm eMarketer.‡ That amount, a 183-percent increase over 2015, is expected to double again in 2017. Fifth Third has seen the popularity of mobile payments grow among its customers in the past few years. Since the launch of Apple Pay in 2015, mobile payments have increased by 133 percent among Fifth Third's customers.
Another way that Fifth Third expanded financial access in 2016 was by joining the Allpoint® ATM network, which gave Fifth Third customers fee-free access to their money nationwide at more than 49,000 ATMs, which can be found via its ATM locator on 53.com and through its Fifth Third mobile banking app.
Fifth Third also takes its services directly to LMI communities via tours of its two Financial Empowerment Mobiles, or eBuses. Fifth Third eBuses are financial centers on wheels. The eBus drives financial access directly into traditionally underserved communities, often in partnership with local nonprofits.
Bus guests can meet with Fifth Third bankers to open accounts or request other needed services, like tax preparation assistance, financial education, job search help and credit reports.
The eBuses traveled to 239 locations and hosted 17,600 people in 2016, and Fifth Third bankers provided 3,867 credit reports to individuals.
** Federal Reserve Board of Governor's Survey, 2015.
† Mobile Internet data charges may apply. Contact your mobile service provider for details.
‡ eMarketer article, "Newer Smartphone Models Help Drive Mobile Payments Usage," published on eMarketer.com, November 22, 2016.
After access to the financial system is achieved, the next step in the journey to financial independence is capability. Fifth Third facilitates a number of service events and workshops across its footprint to meet community members where they are in their financial lives and to help them to meet their next goals.
During Financial Capability Month in April 2016, Fifth Third provided more than 200 financial capability events in the community. The workshops, seminars and training sessions were designed for low- and moderate-income census tracts, and low- and moderate-income families. The sessions focused primarily on asset building, entrepreneurship, credit building and money management, and included several of the Company's signature financial education programs.
In August 2016, the Company conducted its first full market offering of its Fifth Third Bank Empower U® courses to the community, reaching nearly 3,000 people. Fifth Third partnered with 70 nonprofit organizations to teach four Empower U classes to community members: Financial Checkup 101, Budgeting & Savings, Protecting Your Identity and Preparing for Homeownership. In November, the Company began teaching Empower U classes to military members and veterans, reaching 700 people through the end of 2016.
Fifth Third also promotes financial capability by helping people land their next job. After all, the ability to make money is foundational to achieving other financial goals. Fifth Third seeks to help people who are out of work, underemployed or who want to move to the next level. Fifth Third collaborates with NextJob, a reemployment solutions company, to provide reemployment services, and offers several ways for consumers to avail themselves of NextJob's services.
First, for mortgage customers who are in danger of defaulting because of a job change or loss, Fifth Third offers the opportunity to take advantage of NextJob's three-part job search and training program. The program includes work with a job coach; the Job Seeker's Toolkit, a nine-module online training course; and weekly instructor-led webinars. The program is voluntary and fully underwritten by Fifth Third. Since Fifth Third and NextJob created this first-of-its-kind program in 2012, hundreds of job seekers have secured meaningful employment.
Fifth Third also offers its customers free access to the Job Seeker's Toolkit via its authenticated banking site at 53.com. Further, people who step on board the eBuses can gain access to the Toolkit and receive a code that will enable them to complete the training at their convenience.
FINANCIAL EDUCATION & EMPOWERMENT
Financial capability is furthered through financial education. Fifth Third believes that foundational financial knowledge is a prerequisite for financial empowerment. For nearly 15 years, Fifth Third has focused on developing financial programs that educate individuals over the course of their lives, and are available to them as they move through life stages. That is precisely why the Company's financial empowerment programs are called Fifth Third L.I.F.E. (Lives Improved through Financial Empowerment®).
Starting young is key to a healthy financial life. In 2004, Fifth Third developed the Young Bankers Club® (YBC) program for students in the fifth grade. YBC is taught by Fifth Third employees who visit schools once per week for either five or 10 weeks, or at the teacher's request. Fifth Third employees teach the importance of education, saving and budgeting in YBC classes. In 2016, approximately 3,000 students graduated from the Young Bankers Club. More important, 2016 marked the first year in which every Fifth Third region offered the program in local schools. More than 18,000 students have graduated since the program's inception.
Fifth Third Brings Financial Education and More to Tampa Bay Students
A total of 155 fifth grade students from four schools in Tampa Bay got the experience of a lifetime when Fifth Third decided to bring one of its L.I.F.E. (Lives Improved through Financial Empowerment®) programs, the Young Bankers Club (YBC), to their schools. In addition to lessons on budgeting, savings, higher education and career opportunities, the students—many of whom are disadvantaged—got new book bags full of school supplies, and their first-ever view of the ocean when Fifth Third secured approval to take the students on a field trip (and a drive over an eight-mile bridge) to Finance Park at the Gus A. Stavros Institute.
The YBC classes were taught by 27 Fifth Third team members. They gave the students real-world lessons by creating a budget with them, paying bills and completing career profiles for each individual. At the conclusion of the five-week course, Fifth Third held a graduation celebration in Jacksonville. Fifth Third received piles of thank you letters from grateful students after the program ended.
For the last six years, Fifth Third has invested more than $10 million to educate one million students in personal finance throughout its footprint. Through its sponsorship of a financial education curriculum, Fifth Third helped prepare high school juniors for their financial lives after graduation.
In 2016, Fifth Third signed a multi-year contract with a new partner, EverFi Inc., that will enable the Company to offer financial education and entrepreneurship classes to 150,000 high school students annually throughout its markets. EverFi powers financial education in a national network of K-12 public schools, colleges and universities, and with community-based organizations. With a national on-the-ground team of community leaders and former teachers partnering in schools across the country, EverFi delivers innovative, mobile-ready technology using gamification and personalized learning that focuses on increasing knowledge, preparedness and financial well-being.
"Fifth Third has made an incredible commitment to improve the financial capability of teens all across the communities it serves," said Ray Martinez, co-founder and president of EverFi's Financial Education division. "Its groundbreaking investment will provide students and teachers with our digital learning technology and a national network of educators for training and professional development. We are excited to bring this innovative and hands-on approach to students. We applaud Fifth Third as it continues to transform the lives of young people."
Fifth Third's new high school financial education program will be available for the 2017-2018 school year. It is highly digitized and interactive to allow students to personally engage with and learn in the dynamic environment with which they have grown accustomed. It includes a method of measuring progress and learning, and it ends with a Fifth Third Post-High School Financial Road Map. The program will be embedded into high school curricula and is aligned with state and national standards. Additionally, EverFi's high school financial education program, which is a part of Fifth Third's new program offering, is a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommended resource.
Responsible banking is Fifth Third's commitment to consumers; The Company will strive to deliver best-in-class financial products and services and will provide access to those services whenever and wherever consumers want them. Members of Fifth Third's Community and Economic Development team are responsible for ensuring that the Company's complete product and service suite is accessible to all consumers, in all market segments, and that Fifth Third is offering the right types of responsive products and services.
Fifth Third's commitment is to act in the best interest of customers by providing reasonably priced products, defining clear terms and disclosures and offering fair and consistent service. By doing so, the Company can build lasting customer relationships and meet its responsibility to help those customers prosper.