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Financial Capability Study: Financial Wellbeing During a Global Pandemic

July 26, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many facets of American life but did not derail a trend toward increasing financial capability. Still, not all Americans are benefiting equally from improvements in financial wellbeing, according to the new FINRA Foundation Financial Capability Study.

On this episode, Gerri Walsh and Gary Mottola of the FINRA Foundation join us to delve into the latest results of this nationwide, triennial study and their implications for the financial industry, researchers, policymakers and more.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

2021 National Financial Capability Study

FINRA Foundation

Financial Literacy Quiz

Episode 38: 2018 Financial Capability Study, Part I: Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats?

Episode 39: Financial Capability Study, Part II: Tracking Shifting Currents of Financial Well-Being

Listen and subscribe to our podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Below is a transcript of the episode. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. 


00:00 - 00:31

Kaitlyn Kiernan: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many facets of American life, but it did not derail a trend towards increasing financial capability. Still, not all Americans are benefiting equally from improvements of financial well-being. That's according to the new FINRA Foundation Financial Capability Study. On this episode, Gerri Walsh and Gary Mottola of the FINRA Foundation join us to delve into the latest results of this nationwide, triennial study and their implications for the financial industry, researchers, policymakers and more.


Intro Music

00:40 - 01:04

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Welcome to FINRA Unscripted. I'm your host, Kaitlyn Kiernan. I'm pleased to welcome back to the show today two FINRA unscripted veterans. First, we've got Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Foundation and senior vice president of Investor Education at FINRA. And we've also got with us Gary Mottola, director of research at the FINRA Foundation. Gerri and Gary, welcome back to the show.

01:04 - 01:05

Gerri Walsh: Thanks for having us.

01:05 - 01:07

Gary Mottola: Yes, thank you. It's nice to be here.

01:07 - 01:16

Kaitlyn Kiernan: So just to kick us off, so it has been a little bit can you both introduce yourselves and tell us what you do for FINRA and the FINRA Foundation? Gerri, do you want to start?

01:17 - 01:54

Gerri Walsh: Happy to. I have been with FINRA for 16 years and I run the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, and I also am the head of the FINRA Office of Investor Education. So, the Foundation at its core aims to help Americans build financial capability. We do that through a combination of research and outreach programs, and the Office of Investor Education really serves as the voice of retail investors in policymaking. And so, we do a lot of outreach to stakeholders to engage the retail investor experience.

01:54 - 01:57

Kaitlyn Kiernan: And Gerri—or, and Gary, how about you?

01:58 - 02:21

Gary Mottola: Yeah, Gerri and Gary, it's going to get a little confusing at times. I am the research director at the FINRA Foundation and in seven days I will have been here 11 years. So, coming up on my 11- year anniversary and as the research director, I'm responsible for essentially managing the research projects that the FINRA Foundation funds and the research we conduct on our own and the research that we collaborate with other organizations on.

02:21 - 02:44

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Well, Gary, happy anniversary coming up here. We've had you both on the show a few times in the past to talk about various Foundation research, and that includes a past iteration of the National Financial Capability Study, or NFCS. At a high level, can you remind telling us what the NFCS is and what makes the study so unique?

02:45 - 04:17

Gerri Walsh: Well, what I love is that NFCS rolls off the tongue so much more easily than National Financial Capability Study. It certainly is a mouthful. But taking a step back to what financial capability is, because that's really what the FINRA Foundation back in 2009 set out to benchmark. We really wanted to understand not just financial knowledge, because that's one piece of the puzzle, but what were the resources that people were relying upon, that people had. What was their access to financial opportunities? What decisions were they making? What experiences did they have and what were their attitudes?

So, when you wrap that into the NFCS, the National Financial Capability Study, it's really designed to measure and continue to understand a very rich, connected set of data points that tell us about how people are engaging with money, what their attitudes and experiences are, what their challenges are. And because we've been doing this study over five waves--talk about a major anniversary, this is the fifth edition of the National Financial Capability Study--we're able to take a long look back and see how attitudes, behaviors, knowledge have changed over time. And that's a pretty rich and unique data set that people can dive into.

04:17 - 04:27

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Yeah, five is definitely a big milestone. And Gary, can you tell us a little bit about how rich this dataset is? What is the methodology like for this study?

04:27 – 05:22

Gary Mottola: There's a number of defining characteristics about the NFCS and points that make the data valuable, but I want to hit on two. One is a very large sample size. So, we sample 500 adults in America. That means I have to be 18 or over, per state. So that leads to a sample of over 25,000, plus we do some over samples, which we could talk about if we get to that. That large sample size makes it possible for us to look at what we call intersectionality. So, we could look at single African American mothers with dependents. We could look at white males without a high school education or without a college degree.

So, the large sample size really lets us drill down on groups that aren't often studied because the sample sizes aren't large enough. Another defining point I'll make is the way we've structured this data set is you could report out statistics at the state level or the national level, and that's important because a lot of education policy is determined at the state level.

05:22 - 05:38

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Yeah, that makes sense. It's great that in the spirit of friendly competition, states can compare themselves to each other. And so, at the end of the day, what do you think differentiates this study from other studies looking at financial literacy?

05:39 - 06:42

Gerri Walsh: Well, to echo what Gary said, I really think the size of the sample and the ability to do the deep dives into the data so that you don't get stuck with what researchers call small cell sizes. But also, we have continuously added questions, but we've kept a core of questions consistent across the five waves. So, over this long expanse of time, the ability for researchers to go in and compare findings, given what else is happening within the economy and globally from a socioeconomic but also geopolitical perspective, you can see influences showing up in the data.

And so, the researchers that we talk to, as I like to joke, they geek out with us about how rich and valuable the data is. We also make it available for free to researchers, so we make it very easy for people to access it. And we really love to brainstorm with people about different ways to slice and dice the data.

06:42 - 07:14

Gary Mottola: And I'll just add that the way we structure, we have some questions that we ask every single wave, and we have a group of new questions that we could introduce each wave. If you look over the years, when we started in 2009, student loans weren't a problem, but we were able to pop questions in on student loans. Fintech- nobody ever even heard of back in 2009. But in a way we were able to pop in fintech questions. So, the flexibility of the data set is really valuable, too. And to Gerri's point about academics, I was just putting up a statistic recently -1500 academics have either cited or used the NFCS's data since its incarnation.  That's quite an impact.

07:16 - 07:39

Kaitlyn Kiernan: That is quite an impact. So, like you mentioned, with the ability to add new questions, this most recent wave certainly did occur during an interesting time in not just our national history, but our global history with a global pandemic. How has that impacted the data from the 2021 wave of the National Financial Capability Study?

07:40 - 08:11

Gary Mottola: That's a good question, and it really gave us an opportunity to put some questions into the National Financial Capability Study that would allow us to really look at the relationship between COVID and financial capability in America. And we added four questions. One asked if the respondent or someone in the household tested positive for COVID, the other asked if the respondent was furloughed or lost their job because of COVID. And then we ask two questions on stimulus checks. Did you get one and what did you use it for? But those questions allowed us to really understand the relationship between COVID and financial capability in America.

08:12 - 08:22

Kaitlyn Kiernan: And this pandemic has evolved over time. So, I think an interesting question to set the stage, too, is when was this data collected?

08:23 - 08:49

Gary Mottola: So, it was collected between June and October of 2021. And by the way, all waves of the NFCS collect in that time frame so we keep it standard. But the important point about the context is it was after vaccinations were available, but prior to the Omicron variant. At the time of the survey, 60% of the respondents had someone in their household had tested positive for COVID. We know that it's much higher now.

08:49 - 08:51

Kaitlyn Kiernan: It is probably nearly 100% at this point.

08:51- 09:05

Gary Mottola: Yep, indeed. And at the time of the survey found 20% of respondents had been laid off or furloughed. I'm not sure that that number would have gone up that much because at that point the economy was bouncing back a bit. But that provides a little context for the survey.

09:06 - 09:29

Gerri Walsh: And just to provide a little more context, the economy was bouncing back, but the data were collected prior to the end of a lot of the supports that were made available financially. Some of the unemployment benefits I think may have run out, but some of the other supports were still in place, and also before the rising inflation that we've been seeing in 2022.

09:30 - 09:34

Gary Mottola: There's a really important point, particularly of the inflation and even interest rates have been going up as well.

09:35 - 10:02

Kaitlyn Kiernan: I think that's important to cover with the pandemic that's gone on as long as this one has it can feel a little bit like Groundhog's Day. So, it can be easy to forget where we were at different points in time. You mentioned you collected questions on people, on whether they had been furloughed or laid off. What did you learn from that question? How did the pandemic look for the two types of people, those that did not lose their jobs versus those that did?

10:03 - 11:14

Gerri Walsh: You know, you really see a portrait of two Americas emerging. Overall, we saw that financial capability appeared to be on a rising tide. It was gradually going up. When you sort of take that zoomed out look, you really see that so many measures of financial capability, people having emergency funds, people feeling satisfied with their financial situation were on the rise, but not for everyone in the United States. There were some serious cross currents that were sinking some boats.

And that's very, very troubling. And the COVID-19 related job loss question appeared to be an important demarcation point for how people were doing. And what we saw is that those kinds of job loss or furloughs really impacted financially vulnerable demographic groups, and that really compounded the ability of those groups to survive, sustain financial capability, were hitting the most vulnerable, the hardest with this pandemic.

11:14 – 12:00

Gary Mottola: In many ways, the data played out as you would expect it if you were furloughed or laid off, you had more issues. And if someone in your household tested positive, you had more issues in households that didn't. What was striking for us is the magnitude of the differences. And coming into this podcast that was telling us, I'm not going to use too many stats, I don't want to throw out too many percentages, but just to give you a sense, in households that tested positive, 32% had a late mortgage payment compared to 13% in households that didn't test positive. Just one other example. Overdrawing your checking account.

In households that tested positive, 38% of those respondents said they overdrew their checking account about double – 17% for the non-COVID group. So, to me, it was the magnitude of the differences in how significantly these households impacted.

12:00 - 12:14

Kaitlyn Kiernan: That's really interesting. And you mentioned the large sample size of the data, allowing you to do cross-sectional intersectional analysis. How did some of these differences play out among other demographics?

12:15 – 13:06

Gerri Walsh: What we saw is that younger adults, those who have a high school diploma or less so people who haven't gone to college and people who identify as African American or Hispanic or Latino were much more likely to have experienced an unexpected income drop in 2021. So compared to white adults, a much higher percentage of African American or Hispanic Latino adults lack health insurance, for example. So, across a number of measures, we were seeing that when you dig deep into the data and slice and dice it by demographic variables, you do see differences.

We also saw some instances where women were less likely to be strong in financial capability, especially when it came to things like financial fragility.

13:06 - 13:29

Gary Mottola: This is not necessarily new. The groups that have traditionally struggled in America continue to struggle through the pandemic, and there's a lot of reasons for that. Large reasons, for example, structural racism and sexism in the country, the lack of financial education for certain segments. So, in many ways, what we've seen during the pandemic for these groups is, unfortunately, I should say, a continuation of what has gone on in the past.

13:30 - 13:46

Kaitlyn Kiernan: And I know there has been a lot of talk about people using stimulus money to begin investing in the stock market for the first time. You said one of the questions you added this year was whether you got stimulus checks and then how did you use that? So, what did you actually find in the data here?

13:47 - 14:59

Gerri Walsh: It was really fascinating. We did see that some people indicated that they used their stimulus payment to invest in the stock market, but that was about 6%. And unlike other surveys, that gave people one choice or the ability to give one answer to the question, what did you do with your stimulus check? We allowed people to select multiple variables, and the choices were made purchases or paid bills added to savings, pay down debt, donated to individuals or organizations, invested in the stock market or something completely different.

And what we found was that the stimulus money appeared to have worked as intended. A pretty substantial majority of people, 59%, said that they used it to make purchases or to pay their bills. So those were important supports that helped keep people afloat during the pandemic. 38% of people added to their savings. That was also a significant benefit to the economy and something that's borne out by the Department of Labor's economic statistics that come out. And 33% of people paid down their debt.

14:59 - 15:34

Gary Mottola: Gerri had mentioned that about 6% of the people used the stimulus to invest, at least in full, or in part it was double the rate for younger adults. About 11% of younger adults used the money to invest. That aligns with what we call new investor research, where we're seeing an influx of younger and more diverse investors. And that's exactly what we saw with the use of the stimulus money. They tended to be younger. They were more likely to be African American, more likely to be Hispanic. The one thing we didn't see is gender. Women were less likely to use the stimulus money to invest than men, but there certainly was a race ethnicity component and an age component.

15:35 - 15:58

Kaitlyn Kiernan: That's interesting. So, looking back to the first wave of the study in 2009 that also occurred during the beginning of a long-term financial crisis. Are there any parallels that you've seen between the 2009 study and the study that was just conducted in 2021?

15:59 – 17:11

Gerri Walsh: One of the biggest findings from 2009 to 2021 is that we see that people appear to be better prepared to weather financial storms. In 2009, 36% of people said that they found it not at all difficult to cover their expenses and pay their bills. So that meant that there was a substantial portion of Americans who found it difficult, right, who are just getting by or struggling.

And now 54% of people say that they're able to pay their bills and a similar percentage say that they have emergency savings, which is that important buffer that can help people move away from becoming financially fragile. But we do, again, see that the groups that have historically struggled financially are continuing to do so. So even as the economy improved with its ups and downs between 2009 and 2021, there are groups of Americans who are simply not getting ahead, and in some instances, falling behind.

17:11 - 17:27

Gary Mottola: And one thing I'll add to that is, yes, we've seen this kind of steady improvement since 2009. But we do need to point out that the economy was improving during that period as well. So, the improvement of financial capabilities is driven by a number of factors, certainly one of which is the improving economy during that period of time.

17:28 - 18:0

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Another new question in this year's study I saw uses the theme of disease, but it's actually related to probability. I'm going to read the question and the answer choices so our listeners can play along. So, the new question you asked was: Which of the following indicates the highest probability of getting a particular disease? A. There is a one in 20 chance of getting the disease. B 2% of the population will get the disease. C. 25 out of every thousand people will get the disease. Or D. I don't know. So one in 20, 2%, or 25 out of every thousand. What did you learn from this question and why does it matter?

18:19 - 18:30

Gary Mottola: What we learned is that Americans struggle with probabilities. We found roughly a third of the respondents could answer the question correctly. By the way, the correct answer is one in 20, just roughly 5%.

18:30 - 18:32

Kaitlyn Kiernan: But I don't think it's roughly I think it is.

18:33 - 18:52:

Gary Mottola: An excellent point. We do know numeracy is important in terms of making financial decisions, and we wanted to put it in the context of a pandemic because we knew that question had been asked. It was a kind of solid question, but also we were putting in a context that people were living in day to day. In some ways, we were trying to make it easier for people.

18:53 – 20:16

Gerri Walsh: It really boils down to risk. And risk is one of the most difficult things to educate investors or to educate really anyone in any context about. And you think about health probabilities, educating people about the likelihood of contracting a disease, or if you ride a bicycle without a helmet, if you go running in the dark without reflective gear, there's a higher probability that you are going to get hurt through no fault of your own. And when you think about investing, the fact that people in America have such a difficult time understanding probabilities, if risk is presented to them as a probability, there's a higher likelihood that you're going to lose money.

What does that actually mean? How does that feel? And until it happens, what do we know? And that's really tough for people to get their heads around. I've been doing investor education work for 25 years. I was at the Securities and Exchange Commission before coming to FINRA, and risk has historically been the most difficult thing to get people to conceptualize. And I think if you have teenagers, you understand why. We're not programmed to accept that bad things can happen to us, but bad things can happen to us.

And we need to be able to understand that math doesn't seem to be the way to convey the concept.

20:16 - 20:27

Kaitlyn Kiernan: That's really interesting how you've got that overlap of risk and financial literacy in all parts of life. And how many people did get that question right?

20:27 - 20:30

Gary Mottola: About a third, 36%. We were expecting it to be higher.

20:30 - 20:34

Kaitlyn Kiernan: But if our listeners did not get it right, they're not alone.

20:34- 20:35

Gary Mottola: That’s correct.

20:36- 20:45

Gerri Walsh: They can go to the website, though, and take the financial knowledge questions and see how they stack up compared to others. So, I encourage everybody to do that.

20:45- 20:57

Kaitlyn Kiernan: I will link to that in our show notes. There is also a new section in this report that looks at intergenerational wealth transfers. What does the data show here?

20:57 – 22:09

Gary Mottola: We knew we wanted to add some questions on diversity, equity, inclusion to really kind of get at the wealth gaps in America. So, we decided to focus on intergenerational wealth transfer, two forms. One, the classic inheritance that people know of. You receive money when someone in your family dies. And the other is what we call inter vivos wealth transfers, which is a transfer of money between living individuals. And we frame the question as terms of have you received money from your parents or grandparents? And so, two things. One was on the inheritance side.

We found what we expected to find. Whites were twice as likely to either have received or expect to receive an inheritance. I come back to the twice as likely because we kind of thought that would be the case. But the magnitude 30% for whites versus about 15% for blacks. And we also showed that receiving an inheritance is positively associated with a number of financial capability behaviors. The inter vivos was a bit of a different story that we're still trying to unwind. But in short, the inter vivos payments seem to be driven by need. For example, the people who received the inter vivos transfer had much higher levels of financial anxiety and were also more financially fragile. Essentially, they needed the money.

22:09 – 23:34

Gerri Walsh: And even within that, there are some interesting differences when you dig deeper by demographic variables like race and ethnicity. In some cultures, there is a tradition of providing substantial inter vivos gifts for milestone events. And so, in some cultures, the reality of an inter vivos gift isn't necessarily tied to that financial insecurity that Gary was talking about. But this is where the size of the data set really allows us to dig deep and to better understand.

And one of the things going back belatedly to methodology, we very intentionally asked questions that would help us further segment the population. So, we know that not all whites are monolithic. We know that not all African American, black U.S. adults are monolithic. And so, we did ask questions to better understand people's heritage. So, if you identify as Hispanic, Latino, Latina, are you from South America or are you from Central America? Are you from Europe? We have those kinds of questions that will help us dig even deeper into the data and to see what some of the differences are on this question of intergenerational wealth transfers, but also on a variety of different measures.

23:34 - 23:58

Gary Mottola: There's a lot to be done on this question and with this data. Are there any researchers listening? Download the data and start hacking away at it, because as we go deeper and deeper into this intergenerational wealth transfer question, more and more questions arise. People just make great points about why we're seeing what we're seeing. So, it's an area that I think there's an opportunity to learn more about, and I think the NFCS is a good data source to do that with.

23:59 - 24:05

Gerri Walsh: And you can tell from the tone of Gary's voice that he's starting to geek out. That's why we love this study so much.

24:06 - 24:06

Gary Mottola: Indeed.

24:07 - 24:19

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Now that we are in the fifth iteration of the NFCS, with 12 years of data now, are there any noteworthy findings you can share just from overtime?

24:20 - 24:59

Gary Mottola: So yeah, as Gerri said, I'm going to geek out a little here, but try to keep it pretty straightforward. So, we do need to be clear that we can go back to 2009, 2012, 15, 18, 20, 21, but we're not looking at the same people. We're not revisiting and re surveying the same people that would be called longitudinal data. What we're doing is each wave, we go out to a new cross-section of Americans, and that's why we call this cross-sectional research. So, it's important to understand that we're not following the same people. These are different cuts in time.

You need to understand what you're working with. But looking at these five cross-sections at this point, there certainly are some trends that Gerri can hit on.

24:59 – 27:29

Gerri Walsh: Absolutely. Again, as I mentioned before, people are less likely to say that they're having trouble meeting their monthly expenses, which is a positive sign. Again, when you get down into the data, you do see that some groups are struggling. We also see an almost two- fold increase in financial satisfaction from 2009, which was quite a shock to 2021. But only a third of people are really satisfied with their financial condition. So, I think we need to remember that even though we're seeing indicators of financial capability go up,

 U.S. adults are still struggling. There are some things that haven't changed, whether people are spending more than their income, less than their income, or just about at that level. That really hasn't changed, notwithstanding the changes in the economy. So that's something that's held steady and that's true for each of the dimensions of that question. So that's a fascinating to me finding the fact that it doesn't change is interesting. But more people are likely to be paying off their credit cards. We also see some slight changes with financial fragility.

The way we frame that question is how confident you are that you could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose and within the next month. So, it's got a timeframe and it's $2,000 and that's about the average cost of a car or home repair that people might have. And back in 2009, 25% of Americans were certain that they could not come up with that amount, and that's down to 18%. So, there's positive movement, but it's not huge.

The one area where we do see a substantial difference is in financial knowledge as measured by a battery of five core questions. And then this last wave, we did seven questions to understand financial knowledge. And that's where it's important to underscore what Gary just said about who we're surveying, because it isn't the same people, but we do see a downward trend in financial knowledge that seems to be driven in large part because people say they don't know. Now whether culturally people are more open to the idea of saying that they don't know or something else is going on.

We don't know. We ourselves don't know. But we do see that there is this apparent decline in financial knowledge, at least as measured by those five core questions.

27:29 - 27:34

Kaitlyn Kiernan: That is interesting that the shift is going into the, I don't know, category.

27:34- 28:20

Gerri Walsh: I see hope in I don't know. I see hope for two reasons. One, it's not that more people are getting the answers wrong. A similar number of people are getting the questions wrong, but people are less likely to guess on important topics, and that's something that we should probably be happy about. They're more willing to say they don't know which maybe opens the door for an opportunity for education, for learning more about something. But I think the reality is we all have massive microcomputers in our pockets. Right. If you need to know a percentage, you can calculate it on your phone.

There's a lot that we don't need to know immediately. And that's an interesting shift as well beyond the scope of this podcast or even the scope of financial and investor education.

28:20 - 28:30

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Maybe they're like, I don't know, I would just Google it. But that's an important skill to have. Just recognizing what you don't know so you can look it up before you invest.

00:28:31:07 - 00:29:05:17

Gary Mottola: Since 2009, obviously the rise of mobile devices to access our information has increased dramatically. In 2009, people were taking the survey on a computer online and with every wave, a higher percentage of people were using mobile devices. So, one hypothesis is that people on a mobile device might be less engaged in the actual survey and as a result, more likely say, don't know and move on. We're looking into this. It's still a hypothesis, but we're not the only people who think that the rise of mobile device usage might be affecting the measurement of quizzed like questions like this.

00:29:05:26 - 00:29:20:15

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Yes, and I'm pretty positive. My phone in 2009 was a hot pink Motorola Razr flip phone. So definitely was not looking up anything on that phone. It's just too busy with my T9 texting.

29:21 - 29:29

Gerri Walsh: I held off on getting a mobile phone until I think 2002. I was a Luddite, but boy, I love my phone.

29:29 - 29:38

Kaitlyn Kiernan: At the end of the day. What are your overall thoughts on this year's study? Does it leave you feeling more optimistic or pessimistic?

29:39 - 30:34

Gary Mottola: Generally, more optimistic. Clearly, over the last 12 years, financial capability has been improving. So I'm optimistic from that perspective. Yet, I'm a little pessimistic that we still see many of the gaps in financial capability that we've seen among underserved populations since the beginning. So that brings me down a little. But overall, I like the upward trend. And the other thing I'll point out is that and Gerri mentioned the beginning, the podcast where I'm talking now in a really interesting time where inflation is going up, interest rates are going up, we have crypto, we have easier access to investing.

There's a lot of changes going on. So, I'm already thinking, and other people are already thinking, about what questions are we going to ask in the next wave of the NFCS survey that can help us get at some of these new and emerging questions? I'll just make my last plug for the NFCS. That the nature of the NFCS has the ability to track the same questions over time and add new questions really makes it a powerful tool to understand and help shape financial capability in America.

30:34 – 32:37

Gerri Walsh: Financial education is also crucial. And there are naysayers out there who believe that financial education doesn't work. And what I hope does not happen is those naysayers will look at the downward trend in financial knowledge as measured by those five questions and say, see, it doesn't work. It doesn't work. But rigorous studies that have been conducted globally paint a very different picture when it's properly implemented, carefully designed, substantial in both quantity and quality.

Financial education does have important downstream impacts on people's behavior. It improves their financial outcomes. And so, thinking about how to broaden the availability of quality, rigorous financial education in schools, for example, in the workplace, is critical. And also, to take a hard look as a researcher or as researchers, as a research community at what works and why, so that we can inform policymakers and providers of financial education, because there are some things that are less effective.

And glomming onto those and saying the whole element of financial education doesn't work is really an unfortunate outcome. So, where I feel hope is that we do see improvements in financial capability. We do see greater access by groups that have traditionally not participated in our financial markets. They are now starting to enter our financial markets, and that's critical for being able to save and invest for financial stability over life.

So, I see hope there and I look forward to the next wave. I'm like Gary. I can't wait to get back in the field and ask all those questions. We didn't ask and ask the ones that we haven't thought of yet, and that will be our next act.

32:37 – 33:19

Kaitlyn Kiernan: Well, thank you, Gerri and Gary, so much for joining me to talk about this latest iteration of the National Financial Capability Study. I'm sure we'll talk to you again before 2025. But what's great to hear about this year's report for our listeners, if you don't already, be sure to subscribe to FINRA Unscripted, wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you have any thoughts about today's episode or ideas for future episodes, you can email us at [email protected] org. You can find the full results of this year's study on our website, and you can find the link directly in our show notes.

Today's episode was produced by me, Kaitlyn Kiernan, and engineered by John Williams. Until next time.

33:20 – 33:25

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33:25 – 33:52

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