Key Takeaway

In total, clients achieved three times as many savings outcomes as would have been seen before. Tracking the flow of funds into savings vehicles revealed 36% more outcomes than would have been captured with the traditional savings outcome.

This report, with generous support from Capital One, draws on data results from a two-city pilot to better understand how Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) clients are saving and ultimately inform new savings indicators for financial counseling success.

In 2017, financial counselors at Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) in Nashville and Philadelphia tested an innovative approach to defining, discussing, and tracking their clients’ efforts to build savings, using new savings outcomes. The CFE Fund combined counselor and client experiences with academic and policy research to operationalize the field’s thinking about how people with low incomes save, to tell a more complete story about the impact of financial counseling on savings, and to learn whether changing a program’s data system affects the way financial counselors work and the results their clients achieve.

The CFE Fund hosted a webinar on this report. Watch the webinar here. View the presentation here.

Additional Takeaways

The average number of savings sessions per client increased by 30%, and more than twice as many (124% more) savings clients returned for multiple sessions, compared to a 2016 comparison group.

Compared to clients in the previous year, 67% more pilot clients achieved the traditional FEC savings outcome (increasing savings by at least 2% of income), and clients in the pilot also set their personal savings goals 50% higher.

Changing a program's data model affects the way financial counselors work and the results their clients achieve. Counselors spent more time discussing savings with their savings clients than they had previously, and achieved greater results.

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