Just Economy Conference – May 7, 2021
Older adults are entering into retirement with higher rates of financial security compared to previous generations. However, future generations of retirees are currently experiencing higher rates of economic insecurity due to growing economic inequities and the frequency of national crises that cause a volatile market. Also, as future generations of older adults become more technology savvy, the need for a combination of advanced digital tools and community programs increases. And finally, we must provide programs to protect the wealth of older adults. Using a lifespan approach, this session will examine the relationship of the effects of economic inequities experienced earlier in life and later life financial outcomes with a special focus on racial/ethnic wealth disparities. We will discuss the National Council on Aging’s approach to address the growing need of technology through the creation of Age Well Planner, a digital tool that provides older adults with the tools and resources to improve economic security. We will also examine some programs provided by the American Bankers Association Foundation to help prevent elder financial abuse and exploitation.
- Brandy Bauer, Associate Director, Center for Benefits Access, National Council on Aging
- Samuel Kunjukunju, Senior Director, American Bankers Association Foundation
- Lauren Popham, Associate Director, Research and Evaluation, National Council on Aging
- Genevieve Waterman, Associate Director, Digital Economic Security, National Council on Aging
- Nan Gibson, Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase Policy Center
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
Hi, I’m Nan Gibson, I’m executive director of the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center. I’d like to thank you for joining us for this important conversation. Our session today will focus on promoting economic equity in later life through innovative solutions and programs. Given trends and longevity, some of us may live 100 years or longer. I for one, and well on my way there. Living for a century or more will impact how we work our health and how we finance our lives over such a long time horizon. Future generations of retirees are currently experiencing higher rates of economic insecurity. The growing gender, racial and ethnic inequities experienced earlier in life are coming into stark relief as we see financial outcomes in later life growing increasingly fragile. We are fortunate to be joined today by inspiring leaders and leading voices on developing practical solutions to plan for our longevity, the solutions that can potentially be replicated and scaled and our communities across the nation. We will hear about the trends in economic security as we age, the tools and including digital platforms to improve our financial health and resources for combating elder financial abuse and exploitation. We are delighted to be joined today by Dr. Lauren Popham, who is Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at the National Council on Aging. Brandy Bauer is Associate Director for NCO center for benefits access. Genevieve Waterman is Associate Director for digital economic security at NCUA and Sam Kunjukunju, a Senior Director for bank community engagement at the American Bankers Association. So with that, I will turn to Dr. Lauren Popham.
Thank you so much Nan. So I’m going to be talking about racial and ethnic wealth gaps throughout the lifespan. I’m going to present some research and analysis we did with our my colleagues, Dr. Susan Silverman at the National Council on Aging, as well as Dr. Mark Cohen and Dr. Jane tabrez, at the lady age ltss Center at UMass Boston. So we’re going to get started. So wealth rises for all families, as you know, across their lifespans, but there are substantial and significant wealth gaps that exist between white and non-white families that you know, continue into older age. So this table is from an analysis by the Federal Reserve Board of 2019 survey consumer finances, which This displays the median wealth by age group and by race and ethnicity. So you can definitely see those disparities there. So, like I said, I’m going to Share some data from a research project we did. So back in April 2020, we were wondering how the, you know, this was early on in the pandemic, we were wondering how an economic downturn from the pandemic would impact older adults finances. So to do this, we looked at the most recent economic downturn at that time, which was the great recession, to see how older adults finances would fare during the pandemic. And we know that disparities exist, as I just showed you in in wealth. And we wanted to see whether older adults of color experienced more significant declines in financial well-being during the most recent economic downturn and whether that would have implications for the current economy. So to look at this question, we examined data from the nationally representative longitudinal health and retirement study, we looked at data from 2006 to 2010, which is the time period before and after the Great Recession. Our sample included adults aged 60 and older and we looked at, we had enough sample to look at non-Hispanic black Hispanic and non-Hispanic white older adults. And we looked at changes between 2006 and 2010. And a number of different financial measures, including looking at poverty rates and things such as the total value of financial assets, which is non housing assets, and the net value of total wealth, which is the sum of housing, and financial assets minus debts. So I’ll just quickly go over some of those key findings. So this chart shows you poverty rates by race and ethnicity, both before and after the Great Recession. And you can see that after the 2008 Great Recession, that poverty rates increased, for all reason, ethnicity groups of older adults. But it’s pretty clear that poverty rates are substantially higher for older adults of color than they are for white older adults. And although that gap narrows slightly between race and ethnicity groups between 2006 in 2010, non-Hispanic black and Hispanic older adults were four times as likely to be in poverty than non-Hispanic whites. So we also looked at changes in total net wealth by quintile, and by race, ethnicity. And by quintile, what I mean is that we segmented the population into quintiles of total net wealth. So again, this is assets minus stats. And you can see that so for instance, quintile one is that’s the bottom percent, the bottom 20% of older adults based on total net wealth. So these are the people with the least resources. And you can see that the Great Recession had the most significant impact on the fight having a financial losses for those in the bottom quintile, those with the least resources. And the blue bar represents non-Hispanic white, the green bars represent non-Hispanic black and the orange bars are Hispanic older adults. And you can see that, although there were losses for everyone, and especially in quintile one, the non-Hispanic black, and in the Hispanic, older adults have the greatest losses. So we did the same analysis looking at changes in Net Financial Assets. So these are non-housing, on his retirement funds. You know, cash and savings. And again, you see that there were the greatest decreases in the bottom quintile for those with the least resources. So the recession had the hardest strike to hardest on those with the least wealth. And again, non-Hispanic, black and black older adults, experienced the largest declines across a number of the different quintiles. But of course, you can see the sharpest declines for the bottom quintile. So those were just some of the most, you know, the most important findings in terms of race and ethnicity. But in conclusion, you know, we see that there are these long-standing race and ethnicity, disparities and wealth, and these can be exacerbated by economic downturns. So we know that all grow all groups of older adults may experience significant decreases in total net wealth during a downturn, but it’s the Hispanic and non-Hispanic black older adults as well. As you know, those are just the groups we could look at, because we had a large enough sample, but that can be true for other racial and ethnic minority, older adults as well. But they anyways, they experienced the sharpest declines. And that was, and I think this demonstrates the need for a strong social safety net, and for policies that reduce financial disparities across racial and ethnic lines. So with that, I’m going to turn it over to my colleague, Brandy Bauer.
Thank you, Lauren. And I think Lauren sets up what I’m going to talk about very nicely, which is sort of the role of public benefits in. Here we go. And in economics in broader economic security, and you may be sort of wondering if you’re coming from the banking or financial services world, what do public benefits or private benefits have to do with your work? As you can tell, I’m going to be talking about sort of the role they play in economic security for these very vulnerable populations. But also some of the research that we have done related to benefits access and messaging has a more broad application to a variety of financial services and products. So what am I talking about when I’m talking about benefits, I’m really talking about those public and private programs that can be a significant source of income and additional resources for individuals who are in that lowest quintile that Lauren just spoke about. This includes things like snap or food stamps, Medicaid. On this chart, you’ll see lie heap, which is an Energy Assistance Program. There are Medicare subsidies to help people to pay for their Medicare costs and their prescriptions. There are a lot of other programs like veterans benefits, tax relief, supplemental security income, these are all kind of folded into the broad network of benefits. But under enrollment in these programs remains a huge concern. among older adults, only 48% of those 60 and older who qualify for food stamps are enrolled, which means roughly 5 million older adults are missing out on that program, which pays out an average of about $104 a month. So they’re they’re leaving over 12 $100 total on the table. We also know from research that my colleagues at NCUA have done that roughly 2 million Medicare beneficiaries are missing out on the subsidies that make Medicare affordable. And you can see from this chart, I just pulled out four of these key programs. And the average values the as estimated by the Federal administering agencies, and they do have the opportunity to put 1000s of dollars back into the wallets of very vulnerable populations. Oops. One thing I wanted to really talk a little bit about is what prevents older adults from taking advantage of these services and programs. One of the things that we did at NCAA was to collaborate with a group called the diverse elders coalition to understand what prevents older adults of color and LGBTQ older adults with limited income from participating in these programs. And we really looked at what we call two forms of stigma. One of them is external stigma, which is really a stigma that’s associated with the way these programs are administered. And the agencies that administer these programs, versus internal stigma, which is kind of what you would traditionally think of as stigma, that sense of kind of a moral failing, if you have to participate in these programs if you have to accept a handout. So when we ask these groups, why have you, you know what you are seemingly eligible for these benefits? Why have you not participated, you can see that the forms of external stigma really rank a lot higher than that internal stigma. So there’s a lot of concern about the application processes, the paperwork, having to engage with these agencies, not knowing where to begin to get assistance. And then you can see, you know, only 38% of them really said, I don’t want to get a government handout. So the willingness to receive this assistance is there. But these other perceived ideas of how difficult it is kind of impede a lot of activity. And another thing that we looked at was, whom do you trust? When you’re seeking trusted information about financial services and making these decisions? Whether it’s to apply for benefits, where or something else? Where do you go, and for the majority of diverse, older adults, it was really, you know, staying within the family, it was they trust their partner or their spouse, or their adult child for advice. First, they also trust traditional government institutions like Social Security and Medicare, as well as their health providers. But I think that that issue about the family trusts really goes to saying that we need to do a better job of working with, for example, adult caregivers of older adults to really communicate with them to really reach that population. So another thing that we discussed with these diverse, older adults that we surveyed is, you know, how can we talk about these issues with you without, you know, turning you off. And one of the things that really resonated not only with the diverse communities surveyed, but also with the general public is just this this notion that retirement income cannot keep pace with the rising cost of living. For many older adults, they’re living on a fixed income, which is mostly made up of social security and perhaps a little bit of savings. But every year, you know, the Social Security cost of living adjustment is is very minimal. It’s, you know, 1%, it’s not keeping pace with the cost of inflation. But a lot of other themes that spoke to people were related to, you know, their sense of living in the community. So older adults want to remain independent, they do not want to be a burden on their family members, they do not want to have stress and worry about their finances. So the more that we can emphasize benefits are a way for them to achieve these goals of retaining their independence of not being a burden, the better we can use them. And then finally, a theme that we have used a lot at NCUA is this notion of you’ve earned this, this isn’t a personal failing that you have to receive assistance, you’ve worked hard all your life you’ve paid into this system and these programs, and often the system is stacked against you. So it’s just your opportunity to take advantage of them. So I wanted to just point out a few ways that you can potentially connect to these programs and people who are helping older adults with these programs. Because chances are if you have older adults who are coming into your your bank or your institution, and they’re struggling, you don’t necessarily know where to go. One is in person assistance. We know a lot of older adults are not as comfortable with technology or would prefer that sort of in person touch. And we support a network of at Benefits Enrollment centers that are working across 40 states. And they help older adults to connect to a range of social and financial supports. We have a map of where they’re located on our website. But one thing I want to point out is they are very, very keen to partner with banks and other institutions in their community. Because a lot of times the seniors that come into their door, they have debt, they’re they’re using like predatory lending, you know, payday loans. And, you know, these group of folks that are BCS helped connect them to benefits, but they want to be able to send them to other reliable institutions for that additional financial assistance. So we’ve certainly would welcome making those connections between you and the network. Another thing to know about is if you’re, if you’re working with any of your clients who have Medicare, there are these federally funded state health insurance assistance programs in every state, that help people to apply for Medicare subsidies that help people to look at their coverage and make sure they’re not getting scammed. We really encourage people to just make that reference as well. And then finally, as a digital tool, NCUA offers online benefits checkup tool in both English and Spanish, which is a sort of serve yourself a free and confidential screening where people can enter some basic financial information about, you know, their income and their assets. And it tells them what may be available to them. And you can use that as well. If you go to the Resources tab, you can find out programs that are available in your area in terms of tax relief for Employment Assistance, if you want to make those referrals as well. Well, this is open to anyone. And so with that, I’m going to turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Genevieve Waterman, who is going to talk about our equity promise.
Thank you, Brandy. Okay, so, my colleagues, Lauren and Brandy have been given you very detailed information about the initiatives and programs that NCUA is doing. But I want to take a step back and kind of talk a little bit more about what NCUA as the organization is doing and what we’re doing with our next phase of our digital products and tools. So I don’t see a way we’re really focused on this, this idea of, you know, answering the question of why aging well matters. And it really is about addressing some of the systemic disparities that Lauren outlined in her data and brandy talked about with some of the stigma behind benefits for really to look at and really identify solutions to help those that have been faced with gender, race or sexual orientation, zip code income, all different types of disparities, we want to be able to address it because we know that a number of older adults are going to be aging between now and 2030. And 80% of them are financially insecure or at risk of becoming financially insecure. We’re also addressing so we are focused on two different areas. One is economic security and the other is on healthy aging. And so we really want to be able to kind of take those two items identify that as a holistic approach and address older adults needs. We also have a new equity promise as well, and I will it’s it’s included in this slide if you want to take a look and click on the link or I will put it In the question and answer sections that you all have it, I encourage you to read it. It basically outlines the importance of addressing these different types of disparities, and what NCUA is planning to do. Based on our hybrid approach of utilizing the community based network that Brandi had mentioned, she mentioned a portion of that we also have a network of National Institute of senior centers as well. And then also with our digital tools and how we address older adults needs on a virtual level. So the way that ncla effects change, and I kind of alluded to this just a little bit earlier, is really looking at how change comes when everyone works together. So that means that you’re empowering the individual, you’re working through community based networks, and then you’re pursuing different types of solutions to address market failures.
And so through this approach, we are aiming to develop our reach our goal of 40 million older adults by 2030. And our focus is really on serving and providing resources and tools to women, individuals with incomes below the 300% of the federal poverty level, those are living in rural communities and individuals of color. So our next phase of what we are looking to do within ncla is to expand and enhance our next generation of digital tools. So if you are well aware of NCUA, you might know of some of our digital tools. But if not, just to give you a kind of a background, we have had digital tools in the area for about 20 plus years, our most well known tool is benefits checkup, we also have my Medicare matters, and then we previously had economic checkup. But we decided that we really need to think holistically about that individual and have everything on one single platform. And so that was the reason why we created agewell planner. And the main vision of that is to think of this is a digital planner, it helps guide you through everything that you need to know throughout your lifespan. So this is not just focused on something that you know, you turn 65. And here’s everything you need to know this is how do we get you know, how do we help you how to provide resources and tools so that way you can plan for retirement, address the needs he may have, because we know not everyone ages the same way. And then help you get through your your later years. However you choose to plan those and live those out. The main, the main piece of agewell planner is that we aim to educate, inform and activate. So we’re providing unbiased education through our trusted resources. We have vetted partnerships so that way, we know that they’re providing the right types of educational materials, and we’re steering them towards the right, the right resources and tools, we’re not steering someone towards something like a payday loan, we want to be able to actually address the problem without putting that individual in a more vulnerable state. And the other key areas that were providing proactive and reactive solution. So we noticed that there’s seems to be a gap in the market where we’re always providing some sort of reactive solution to the problem. And we really want to get ahead. So for example, if I’m someone that is chronically financially unstable, we want to be able to help them develop financial stability, so that way they can then build assets over their lifespan. So agewell planner is in its minimal viable product, which means that it’s it’s brand new, we launched it in September, and we did a redesign in March based on some user feedback. So the current topics that we have an angel planner are finance, Medicare, education, health and wellness, we are planning to expand so we are bringing over our benefits checkup. And that will be brought over next year. And then we are also developing different topic areas to really make it more holistic for the user. So we are looking to go into workforce development or employment opportunities, managing debt and credit concerns, addressing housing issues or utilizing your house as the your your nest egg or your main source of assets, exploring financial exploitation and scams, understanding long term care costs addressing insurance needs. So determining whether or not the individual has adequate insurance coverage for the different types of areas of their life. For example, do you have homeowners insurance, and then finally end of life planning helping individuals to plan to utilize it, you know, make sure that their assets are utilized and transitioned off to the next generation in the right way. That’s the most customized way for them. And then also think about are they covered Do they have all of the documents in place for end of life? So I’m going to briefly go through two key areas in in agewell planner, the first being our finance section, and this was conceptualized with the thought of We we know that we work with a lot of low income older adults who haven’t had access to a financial advisor throughout their life. So we really want to be able to think about what is the education? Or what are the needs that they may need, or what’s the information that they would receive from a financial advisor, and then put it online so that way they have access to it. So that’s how we came to the finance section, and the user goes through a short assessment, they provide us with information. The one key area is that we focus on the employment status. So if you identify as being fully employed, you’ll be able to answer sort of the lump sum amounts that you have. So for example, we’re thinking of the accumulation phase. Whereas if you identified as being retired, then you’re we’re focusing on the D accumulation phase. So for example, in this screenshot, this individual identified as being retired, and they’re showing us their monthly income. So that way, we can help them navigate, how best to utilize their their different types of income streams. And one key area that we really wanted to focus on was the benefits. So taking what we know, for example, Brandi talked to us about her work within the benefits piece, we know we’re experts in the field of benefits. So how do we begin to change the narrative around how benefits are an integral part of your retirement income? So you’ll see that there the breakdown as well. And then eventually, as we expand this area, we hope to bring on new partners who are able to kind of provide tools or calculators to help older adults kind of navigate through their daily needs. So whether or not they face a financial crisis? How can we? How can we rearrange them the money that you need, so that way, you’re not going to experience a financial crisis down the road or face a serious issue or lose your home. So that’s kind of one of the key areas that we have within the finance section. Again, really focusing on this approach of utilizing and understanding the low their income sources, so whether or not you identify as a low middle and high income user. So for example, the differences would be if I’m a high income user, and I say that I want to explore different types of annuity products, we would then connect you to the right, the right trusted partner. For example, if I’m a low income user, and I identify as having a financial concern, I don’t have enough money to date, I’m unable to pay my bills, we would then connect you to determine whether or not you’re eligible for benefits versus whether or not if I’m a middle income user, we would identify whether or not you’d be a good candidate to talk about investments. And then the final area is our Medicare section. So this is taking our my Medicare matters product and bringing it over. And we have identified it’s basically identified as the individual take a short assessment determine whether or not they’re eligible for Medicare based on their age and their income. And then also there’s zip code. And so the reason why we ask for zip code is we want to be able to provide a cost estimator. So basically, the screenshot that I’m showing here shows the individual’s potential out of pocket healthcare costs based on a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap and Part D plan. And so basically, you’ll see here that shows the different types the lowest median and highest cost plans. However, you will note that there is no information for example, doesn’t show like an Aetna it doesn’t show the different exact types of plans because we are not a broker. We are simply providing the user with the information if they want to connect with a broker, we have partnered with Medicare choice group, and they are the ones to be able to get the individual to actually enrolling in the product. And with that, I will now turn it over to Sam.
Well, good morning, everyone. As Nan mentioned earlier, my name is Sam Kunjukunju and I’m the Senior Director of bank community engagement at the ABA foundation. That’s the American Bankers Association Foundation. For those of you who may not know the ABA foundation is the 501 c three nonprofit arm of the ABA, and we work with a network of bankers around the nation to really improve the well being of customers and communities throughout the nation. We utilize a multi-pronged approach in working with banks to support older Americans of all different backgrounds. The first focus is on education to mitigate against elder financial abuse and exploitation and to help elders age well through our say thank you for seniors program. We developed turnkey resources to help bankers lead presentations to educate elders and their families on how to protect their financial assets and identities. So essentially, we provide a lot of the materials while bankers deliver the press limitations. The program includes an older Americans toolbox, which you can see on the screen that walks bankers through starting a senior financial education program at your bank planning senior financial education events, and then also communicating with your community about the work that you’re doing. Bankers also have access to specific modules. This is the crux of the program to share information about how to address elder fraud, and then also how to support financial caregiving. So these six modules that you can see on the screen, talk about avoiding and identifying scams, preventing identity theft, choosing a financial caregiver, acting as a responsible financial caregiver, understanding powers of attorney and then choosing an executor. It’s a lot of comprehensive information that’s discussed through the various materials for about 60 minute presentations, whether they are in person through non COVID times are currently through a lot of virtual presentations. And we focus on a lot of comprehensive materials that discuss from things like lottery scams, romance and imposter scams. The materials discussed how to present on how identity thieves operate, and how people can protect themselves. Materials also includes some great information on the roles of financial caregivers, financial caregiving challenges, understanding some of the differences between durable and springing and general powers of attorney. And they also include some great resources on estates and differentiating between probate and non probate assets. So it’s quite a bit of information, but it really is developed in such a way to help bankers educate their communities on how to support financial caregiving, and also how to prevent elder financial exploitation. Each of the six modules comes with a collection of materials that include a presentation Guide, which really provides great information on how to essentially present this information to your community. So even if you’re a banker that might have started yesterday, and then tomorrow, you have to go and give a presentation. It gives you word for word information on how to present such information to your communities. There’s the presentation slides, which serve as the primary conduit to share the presentation materials. We’ve got activity sheets that are really geared toward helping individuals in your audience, really understand what do you do in different types of scenarios. So for example, there are situations on there that says if you get a call from someone claiming to be social security, and indicating that your social security number has been compromised and asked you to confirm information, what do you do in those types of scenarios, there’s resource sheets to help the audience identify exactly who to speak to and who to contact in different types of situations. Certainly, there’s handouts to provide that can be either downloadable or printed when you’re doing in person presentations, to help reinforce different types of topics. And there’s a variety of communication tools to help you educate and share the information with your communities about the various programs that you have developed. In addition to that, we have a partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, where we focus on developing a number of tools, specifically educational materials, around infographics that highlight issues or scams that disproportionately affect older Americans. These include romance scams or phishing, scams or fake check scams, imposter scams, government imposter scams and money mule scams that are all part of the package of safe banking for seniors. In addition to the education side, the second area that we concentrate on is focusing on partnerships. So if you look on the left side of your screen, you can see our guide, which is the protecting seniors Guide, which is really all about cultivating relationships between banks, law enforcement and Adult Protective Services because of the ABA in the ABA Foundation. What we recognize is that when it comes to protecting older Americans, it cannot rest on one group or one discipline shoulder, it really requires a multidisciplinary approach. So that guide is set up to really help cultivate and facilitate relationships, and to encourage bankers to engage in this particular area. Thirdly, we engage in research. So if you look on the right side of your screen, you can see it’s a document called our 2019 older Americans benchmarking report. And this is a survey that we launched about every two years, where we ask bankers directly How are they engaging with their older American communities, their customers or clients? How are they training staff to address elder financial exploitation? And how are they educating their communities on how to mitigate against these types of risks? In fact, this year, we’re actually about to launch in this maze a very shortly actually, right now we’re in the process of doing all of this. And if you are interested and in the audience and you’re not participating, please do not hesitate to reach out to me I’ll be able to facilitate connections to you can engage directly and provide feedback on this great work. All of these resources are available completely for free through the support of a number of banks, including Ally Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and trust Bank. And we ensure that all banks around the nation have access to this just by registering for firstname.lastname@example.org, forward slash seniors. Once again, that’s aba.com forward slash seniors, you just click the free registration button, go through the steps, and you’ll be able to have access to all the materials. On the other side, we actually have a number of resources to help non banker groups reach out and connect with bankers. And they’re able to do so through our fin Ed link platform in which consumer groups can actually request a free banker led presentation by visiting aba.com. So forward slash fin Ed link. Again, that’s aba.com, forward slash fin Ed link. So with that, I just like to say thank you so much for having us here. And I’ll turn it back to Nan.
Thanks, Sam. And thank you all for terrific presentations. There’s a lot of really compelling data and important resources. And we have a few more minutes before we take questions from the audience. So while we’re on you, Sam, I just wanted to ask a quick question. Maybe you could just talk a little bit about how safe banking for seniors is different from some of the other programs and resources that are available, like FDIC is Money Smart for older adults. Just talk a little bit about, you know, the sort of where ABA is sort of, you know, providing differentiated resources.
Sure, sure. So, you know, a lot of the resources that we provide take a two-pronged approach. So we’re doing the elder financial exploitation issues that are being addressed. And there’s the education side about that. And then simultaneously, there’s a significant amount of resources that are geared toward helping families prepare for the future. Whereas we all know on the call, there’s about 10,000, baby boomers, turning 65 every day and by 2034. So we’ll have more older Americans that are aware have more individuals who are older Americans and children for the first time in American history. So with all of this, that’s happening, there’s a huge need to be able to appropriately support our older Americans. And there’s going to be a huge need for financial caregiving. So through our safe banking for seniors program, we’re trying to help focus on both of these areas simultaneously. But the crux of this is really geared toward the banker audience. So these materials are specifically tailored and designed for bankers, understanding where bankers are coming from so that bankers can talk about different programs and help them develop it at their own specific bank. So we’ve got that framework, which I shared about with the older Americans toolbox. And then we have all of the different specific content. And there’s a lot of different communications tools and resources that are available, but it’s really all geared toward helping banks share this information. Other programs, whether it’s FDIC or CFPB, it’s really open to a lot of other groups and individuals to share. But our materials are tailored to banks to lead these presentations so that they can facilitate communicative community connections and share this information.
That’s, that’s terrific, Sam, thank you. Genevieve, I want to turn to you for a minute to talk a little bit about the agewell. planner, because obviously, financial health throughout our you know, our entire lives is is incredibly helpful. But it becomes there’s an urgency about it, right as among older adults, I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about, you know, what kind of, you know, take-up rate you’re seeing with those resources, and some of the strategies that you may be using for, you know, increasing use of you know, how to get more people to take advantage of, of the resources that you will have the fabulous resources that you all have produced?
Sure, and that’s a great question. So we have seen a large number of individuals come through since our launch. And I believe that the numbers between September and March is about 4000. And just in the last month or two, we’ve actually doubled that. So we’re at 9000. So we’ve seen that there is a large number of older adults that are seeking services from us. They’re also reaching out to us through our Contact Us form, explaining that they’re having trouble kind of navigating. One navigating through retirement but also kind of just financially navigating through the fact that they don’t have enough money for the day to day. We’re getting a lot of hard Breaking emails saying I can’t afford to eat to help me, I don’t know what to do. And so what we are trying to do is as we expand and bring on strategic partners, within each one, we develop a social media campaign, we’re also utilizing our partners networks, so that way they can get reach out to either their customers or their network yield to say that word felt this partnership. And we see that that’s bringing that’s increasing a lot of the traffic to agewell. planner.
That’s, that’s fantastic. You know, Brandy, I wanted to circle back to you as well. I was wondering you, I was struck by the the comment about the the polling and the the stigma is not as big of an issue as just the sheer paperwork application process seems to be one of the biggest hurdles. And I’m wondering, you know, if if you all have thought about ways and maybe even digital tools for, you know, helping to streamline that process somehow. You know, is it? Well, I’m just wondering, you know, given all this technology, you know, how we can help help folks. Get through the, you know, that process more easily?
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things we’ve done is sort of more on an advocacy side, because a lot of these programs are administered by state agency, these that are using archaic systems and forms that are many pages long. There are a number of waivers at the government level for states to be able to do you know, a short two page application for seniors for a lot of these programs. So we really advocate states to take that up. At the same time, we’re really trying to work on, you know, with our benefits checkup tool to help guide people along as much as possible to provide them the information that they’re going to need, if they’re going to apply. In even one state, we have the ability to pre populate a form for these programs. So we do definitely recognize that there’s an opportunity there to better streamline the process. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of these programs are administered differently in every single location. And so there isn’t a universal application yet that we are certainly strong advocates of that.
Then could you just spend, you know, a couple minutes talking about examples of how banks are working with your enrollment centers? Yeah, I think best positioned to handle that. But if you could,
Yeah, that’d be Yeah, no, I think it’s, um, you know, a lot of the folks that come into our Benefits Enrollment centers, um, you know, they coming in because they’re in crisis they are they have an immediate financial need. The Benefits Enrollment Center obviously works to help them to connect to those programs that can help to pay for the basic necessities, but in some of them are unbanked or underbanked. So making that referral to particularly like credit unions, especially but but other banks as well, to help them to, you know, start savings funds if they don’t have them already, to help them avoid scams that Sam talked about. I mean, we see a lot of vulnerable older adults who are already limited income and then exposed to those scams. So really helping to make that connection to get them on the path to be able to at least have a creditable financial institution in their life, to help them deal with debt to to avoid those scams.
Yeah, absolutely. And that those are all really great points. And then, and then Lauren, I wonder, you know, getting back to the root of a lot of these issues. I wonder if you could, you know, you mentioned the the economic safety net, and the importance of strengthening that. But, but I’m also wondering if you all have some recommendations about, you know, some of the more systemic changes that need to be, you know, put in place, maybe policy recommendations in order to strengthen the financial health of, of individuals throughout their life, but most especially, you know, in later life.
Yeah, I mean, it’s a really complex question.
I think, right. Popham I totally agree.
Yeah, I mean, I think we’re NCUA is public policy and advocacy team. A lot of the recommendations, or some things that I think Brandi talked about with regard to I mean, it’s more reactive, right? It’s not like it’s not a proactive thing. getting asked easily, you know, systemic racism and wealth inequality over lifespan and intergenerational wealth, that sort of thing. But a lot of the recommendations around just getting people into benefits, like, you know, as I presented in my slides, that the poverty rate is so much higher for, for non-Hispanic black and Hispanic older adults. And so a lot of those people are eligible for benefits. And so I think, streamline streamlining, streamlining the application process or, you know, different changes around the, the application process and stuff is, is probably a no a really beneficial thing. So, yeah, complex problem. I don’t think I don’t know if that answers your question. But those are some of the things that Insu is thinking about.
That’s that. Yeah, I mean, I think these are very, very complex problems, obviously. And, and we look forward to hearing more about how we can work together to solve some of these issues, and whether whether it’s equity or access to mainstream banking, services, and, you know, combating it working out financial health and wellness or combating elder financial exploitation. So I think we are ready to turn to the audience questions. So we look forward to the Q&A now.
Okay, well, thank you all for joining us, I see that there are a couple of questions. So I’ll go ahead and take one of the questions. The first one is from Karen. So thank you, Karen, for for joining us today. And it’s in regards to those of you who are currently NCUA partners or work with us across our different community partnerships, or work with us along our digital tools. So if you are interested either in continuing your partnership, maybe at a different level, maybe enhancing it or maybe you’re new to learning about NCA and what we do as an organization, I’m more than happy to reach out with you and talk to you directly. So that way I can kind of help guide you what might be the best partnership for both you and your organization. I believe so we just lost man for a minute, but I’ll turn it over to Sam, Sam, I believe is a question about bank accounts and caregivers that we’ve best answer.
Sure. Thanks so much, Genevieve, and thanks for sending over the question. So the question specifically about what the caregiver have to set up an account with a particular banking institution? Or would it be available regardless if the individual has an account set up with the bank. So the information that I had shared for safe banking for seniors, all of that is completely available for individual consumer groups, I should say to access through fin adlink. You don’t have to go through a particular bank, you don’t have to go down to your bank down the street, for example, and then open up an account to necessarily access this information. What we’ve done is we’ve set up a web link that was fun add length that we just added into the comments a few moments ago. And that is www.nba.com, forward slash fin adlink, which stands for financial education link. Using that you’ve got the ability as a consumer or part of a consumer group, I should say you can access these materials by making a request for a banker led presentation. So in short, you don’t have to set up an account with a bank or any specific bank to access these materials. It’s more along the lines of going through the online platform to request this information on a banker led presentation on any of the six modules that I shared. And then for bankers in the audience, they can access it through ABA comm forward slash seniors, just go to the website, put in some information about who you are, register and you’ll be able to access all that information.
Great. Thank you, Sam. I’ll turn it over to Nan I believe you’re back man. We’re all out of have questions from our attendees. So I’ll turn it over to you. Oh, we just lost her. Okay, um, well, in the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to pop that in the chat. I’m going to go ahead and ask a question to Lauren. I’m just pulling it up now, Lauren. So one of my questions for you is in regards to some of the data he presented earlier on. So tell us a couple of reasons as to why there’s racial disparities in…
Well, yeah, thank you for those questions. And it’d be this is a really important topic to help us understand why you do see these racial and ethnic disparities in wealth. And, you know, one of the main reasons is that people of color tend to have lower incomes over their lifespan. And of course, this makes it difficult to afford basic expenses, it also makes it a lot harder to save and invest in the stock market to build wealth. There’s also the issue of wealth being passed down from generations. So whether that’s inheritance or family financial support when purchasing for big purchases, like a home or those sorts of things are paying for college. Those are intergenerational wealth is more common in white families. Also, we know that homeownership is one of it’s an important vehicle for accumulating wealth. And people of color own homes at lower rates, or they’re delayed in homeownership. And that means that they have less wealth accumulation over time. And it also an important one is people of color often have less access to retirement plans for saving. So those are some of the reasons not a comprehensive list. But that kind of gives you a sense of why we see these disparities.
Yeah, and that’s definitely something that we’ve also thought about, just to kind of add to your point. So part of what we’re doing with our new generation of digital tools, especially when it came to conceptualizing APR planners, we took the data that Lauren is discussing. And then we also apply it to what we know from what we’re seeing across the country. So the programs that Brandi was mentioning are benefit enrollment centers. And we also have snap grantees as well. We’re focused on getting older adults enrolled in SNAP benefits. So we took a lot of information, and really brought it together to really think more about what what’s beneficial for all of our users, and how do we help those that are struggling and we saw what the covid 19 pandemic that that can happen to anyone, anyone could be on the next food line is asking for a basket of food or obtaining food stamps. So it’s something that we need to be a little bit more cognizant of, and that’s something that we’re approaching at NCUA as evidenced by our equity promise, and something that we will be thinking continuously about what are the long term effects of COVID-19 not only on the current generation of older adults, but thinking about future generations of retirees and, and what they’re going through across their lifespan and how that affects them later in life. So I will since we have about a couple more minutes left, I will turn it over to Sam, Sam, if you want to just to kind of clarify just a little bit more, basically, about the materials that you shared. Basically, whether or not these are materials for your members, whether it’s free to access them, and how do banks participate in your safe making for seniors program?
Sure. So in short, everything is free. And it’s through the sponsorship of a number of major banks, including JP Morgan Chase Ally Bank, truist, Wells Fargo US Bank, there’s a number of banks that have been supporting this, especially also Bank of America. And so through a lot of that sponsorship, what we’ve done is we’ve enabled a situation where everyone can really access this completely for free. And because it’s really a foundation, we ensure that this is available for banks around the nation, whether or not they are members of the American Bankers Association. So even if there are any bankers on the call that are not part of ABA, they can certainly access is readily available right at ABA comm forward slash seniors. And then similarly, it is completely free for consumer groups, whether there are senior centers or sheriff’s departments or faith based ministries. There’s a lot of different types of groups that have already accessed this through our fedlink website. And it’s certainly open to additional groups completely for free.
And just to emphasize, Sam and I have been partners for a couple of years now it seems like it was just yesterday that we just met. And we really are highlighting the fact that the partnership has really been focused on how do we help older adults the best way possible. So utilizing all of the expertise that Sam brings from the American Bankers Association and utilizing our NC always expertise in serving older adults and their banking needs. And that’s another example of a potential partnership where if you are a bank or a credit union, yeah, we’re always interested in expanding the partnership that we have with Sam. And it’s been very fruitful so far. So thank you, Sam for joining us. I know you’re in an With all these NCAA folks on our panel, but we enjoy having you here. Thank you. So we don’t have any other questions in the chat. And at this point, I am opening it up for any last-minute questions. If not, we will end this early so you can all head out and get some lunch. All right, well, thank you so much, and enjoy the rest of the conference and the rest of the Age-Friendly banking convening. I believe there’s a second one coming up later this afternoon. So please, attend that conference as well. Thank you.