FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is an independent, not-for-profit organization with a public mission: to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly. The mission of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation is to empower underserved Americans with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. Through a combination of research and educational programming, the FINRA Foundation helps Americans build financial stability, invest for life goals, and guard against fraud and financial exploitation.
Moving Financial Literacy Forward
Research allows people—financial consumers, teachers, policy makers, and more—to better understand and improve money decisions. The FINRA Foundation conducts the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) a large, triennial data collection that aims to benchmark indicators of financial capability and evaluate how these indicators vary with demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and financial literacy characteristics. Educators may use the NFCS Financial Knowledge Quizzes—or explore state-by-state comparisons of financial capability across a wide range of dimensions.
Over the past decade, findings from the NFCS underscore that financial education matters. Respondents who receive more financial education (10 hours or more) or who believe their financial education was higher quality are more likely to save and less likely to overdraw their checking accounts, engage in fee-generating credit card behaviors, or use non-bank borrowing methods.
Although measuring the efficacy of financial educational efforts can be challenging, the FINRA Foundation’s efforts show important correlations between exposure to financial education and positive financial behaviors, even over long periods of time. These efforts—combined with outreach tools and resources available through the Jump$tart Clearinghouse—contribute to a growing body of literature that guides the way to #afinlitfuture for all.
Jump$tart Clearinghouse Links:
- Money Math for Teens
- Con ‘Em If You Can Game and Educator’s Guide
- Smart Investing Micro-Courses
- Thinking Money: The Psychology Behind Our Best and Worst Financial Decisions
In February 2021, the FINRA Foundation, in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, released new research that explores the behaviors, attitudes, and characteristics of people who opened new investment accounts during 2020. The study found market dips that made stocks cheaper to buy and the ability to invest with small amounts were among the top reasons younger and inexperienced investors reported entering the stock market. New investors—who opened a non-retirement investment account for the first time during 2020—were younger, had lower incomes, and were more racially and ethnically diverse than those who already owned taxable investment accounts prior to 2020.
While knowledge of key investments concepts was low across the board, new investors fared worse than their experienced counterparts. To help novices get smarter about investing and build essential investment knowledge and skills, FINRA offers Smart Investing Micro-Courses. Topics include: Setting Investment Goals, Defining Terms, Risk & Return, Rate of Return, Diversification, and Fees & Commissions.
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