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FINRA Foundation

Angelita Williams (202) 728-8988
Monique McNamara (202) 728-8991

FINRA Foundation Announces Annual Research Award Recipients

Studies Advance Understanding of Financial Capability in the United States

WASHINGTON – The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) recently announced the recipients of its higher-education awards created to recognize outstanding analyses by researchers-in-training who seek to advance understanding of consumer financial wellness and the complex relationships among financial literacy, financial capability and financial well-being.

The awards were presented in conjunction with the American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI), a leading organization for researchers and other professionals focused on research and programming on consumer well-being. Students had the opportunity to present their findings during the ACCI’s virtual annual conference.

Each year, the FINRA Foundation awards $1,000 to a graduate student, post-doc, or any faculty member who received a Ph.D. less than three years from the date of application who produces the best research paper based on data from the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). The winner of the 2020 NFCS Research Award is Richard Stebbins, of the University of Alabama, for his submission titled, “Everybody Dies: Implications for Financial Education and Estate Planning.”

In addition to the 2020 NFCS Research Award, the FINRA Foundation recognized the following students with awards for their submissions in the Undergraduate Student Research Poster Competition: 

  • First Place, “Influence of Health and Wealth on Retirement Satisfaction,” Chris Beland, student of Derek Tharpe, University of Southern Maine;
  • Second Place, “Online and Mobile Investment Technology Adoption Among U.S. Investors,” TaoHua Wen, student of Lu Fan, University of Missouri; and
  • Third Place, “Mobile Financial Services and Healthcare Utilization in Zimbabwe,” Keane Swenson, student of Sophia Anong, University of Georgia.

Earlier this month, the FINRA Foundation also published, “Millennials’ Credit Card Management: Ways to Improve through Planning and Financial Knowledge,” a submission by 2019 research award winner, Sunwoo Lee, of The Ohio State University, Department of Human Sciences and co-authored by Dr. Kyoung Tae Kim at the University of Alabama. 

“These early-career researchers are leading the way in our efforts to understand and better address the challenges Americans face in building financial capability,” said Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Foundation. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to explore this critical area of Americans’ financial health, especially as millions of Americans are facing unemployment, reduced work hours and financial strain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The American Council on Consumer Interests is pleased to partner with the FINRA Foundation to encourage this research, support these awards, and to feature them at its annual conference,” said Dr. Ginger Phillips-Schiller, Executive Director of the American Council on Consumer Interests. “It is important to encourage researchers to utilize this important data set, as well as to foster research scholarship among undergraduate scholars.”

Conducted every three years since 2009, the NFCS is one of the largest and most comprehensive research initiatives on financial capability in the United States. Drawing on data sets comprising responses from tens of thousands of U.S. adults, the NFCS measures four key components of financial capability: making ends meet, planning ahead, managing financial products, and financial knowledge and decision making.

Research submissions must address a topic related to financial capability in the United States. The award recipient also agrees to create an issue brief based on the winning paper, which is published and promoted by the FINRA Foundation as part of its Insights: Financial Capability series. This series has included issue briefs prepared by highly esteemed researchers and research organizations.

About the FINRA Investor Education Foundation

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. For more information about FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit


FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit