The MetLife Foundation is Building Financial Capability
BFA (formerly Bankable Frontier Associates)
Well-run financial institutions make a point of asking their customers directly how they can serve them better. The five institutions in Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Vietnam with which MetLife Foundation grantee BFA is working are no exception. But like many financial institutions, the BFA partners also have vast stores of valuable information already in hand about customers’ potential needs and preferences in the form of raw data about their past transactions. Expert data analysts from BFA are helping these institutions unlock that value and better understand their customers’ financial needs by studying patterns in the products customers are currently using and how. These data-driven insights enable the institutions to offer the right product, or develop new products, new technology and distribution channels, that will benefit low-income customers and help build their financial capability.
BFA’s work gives each of the five institutions individually a solid foundation to continuously improve products and services to meet their clients’ needs. Collectively, the BFA partner institutions generate valuable multiple perspectives because they operate in different geographies, cultures, legal forms, and regulatory environments. Studying the data and customer behavior across such diverse institutions can yield potentially important insights for the financial inclusion community as a whole.
The subprime financial sector—payday and car-title lenders, high-interest credit cards, furniture and appliance rental outlets—offers financially stressed people temporary solutions that seem to solve their immediate crisis but devastate their overall financial health. Fair Finance, an award-winning alternative lender, is a key partner in the United Kingdom providing personal and business loans to low-income individuals not typically served by mainstream finance. Along with affordable credit, Fair Finance emphasizes financial counseling to help clients make informed decisions to improve their financial health. MetLife Foundation supported Fair Finance’s operational upgrades, including a new enterprise-wide customer database, to strengthen the back-office infrastructure necessary to achieve a planned ten-fold expansion in outreach.
National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
Member-owned credit unions have historically provided a lower-cost, customer-centric financial services alternative for working people. The member institutions of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (The Federation) collectively serve more than 6 million predominantly low-income Americans. MetLife Foundation’s support to the Pathways to Financial Empowerment program is one of the cornerstones of our “edu-action” philosophy: financial counseling that stresses learning by doing. The success of Pathway’s first phase validated that philosophy as all targets were exceeded. In the pilot credit unions, clients developed financial plans, took up products to reduce their debt loads, and improved their credit scores. The second phase scale-up of Pathways will build on the pilot’s successes, supporting 10 more credit unions and, in the long term, reaching thousands of low-income clients.
Accion/The International Microfinance Management and Leadership Program
In partnership with the Chinese Association of Microfinance, MetLife Foundation grantee Accion launched the first comprehensive microfinance training and capacity-building initiative in China in 2016. The first class alone drew leaders from 13 microfinance institutions (MFIs) which collectively represent 900,000 clients and 33,000 additional staff. The program combined classroom-based education with experiential learning to build participants’ leadership and management skills and develop sound technical knowledge in business operations and human resources. The training program ensured that Chinese MFIs would be able to serve low-income customers with a wide range of quality financial services.