Research activities include, but are not limited to, financial industry data collection and analysis, inventory of financial education programs and providers and establishing a financial education Internet platform.

Data Collection and Analysis

WBF will collect data through online resources, public surveys and personal interviews about Wisconsin’s banking industry and information that affects consumer decisions about financial products and services. The data from these resources will be analyzed to determine industry and consumer trends. This will, in turn, help WBF create educational materials, public information and templates that will best utilize WBF resources to the benefit of the general public.

Research on financial institutions in Wisconsin and throughout the country will be done by collecting quantitative data from local, state and federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, and through a direct survey of banks that have a retail presence in Wisconsin.  The research will be presented to the public and used to examine the correlation between consumer behavior, financial literacy acumen, financial institution product offerings and financial institution performance to determine what relationships exist between consumer decisions and types of financial institutions.  An additional goal of the research is to create tools for use in the classroom or at home that help consumers make informed financial decisions.

Inventory of Financial Education Programs and Providers

WBF catalogs the spectrum of financial literacy programs and curriculum offered by entities operating in the Financial Literacy arena in Wisconsin through a report called Financial Literacy: A Wisconsin Inventory; a document that was first created in January 2014 and to be updated on an annual basis.

 Financial Literacy: A Wisconsin Inventory is a report that includes a comprehensive inventory of Financial Education resources operating in the State of Wisconsin. It classifies entities in the financial education arena as either part of Government, an Educational Institution or a Private Non-Profit agency/For Profit business.  Programs offered by the entities are then identified as providing a Curriculum, Games, Professional/Workplace Education or Student Education.  The inventory identifies a role for each resource in the areas of Education, Funding, Creation or Research.  Further, all program elements are broken down by Target Age; Elementary (ages 3-11), Middle/High School (ages 12-18), College/Young Adult (ages 19-25), Adult (ages 26-60), Senior (ages 50+).  The inventory is available for free to non-profit entities working in the field of Financial Education.

 Financial Education Internet Platform

Based on the initial information, the landscape of financial literacy providers is highly fragmented.  Recipients of financial literacy typically have a varied understanding of what is available and no mechanism to compare or make explicit choices exists.  Providers operate in a silo (even with best intentions) and pursue their mission with sometimes limited awareness of the provider landscape around them and with limited coordination/cooperation, often competing for access to funding and volunteer resources.  Volunteer resources are retained on a one-off basis or through narrow established channels with a risk of poorly matching their expertise with the need and the program they are involved with.

As a result, WBF will research the development of two critical tools to enable and empower these existing elements to reach target audiences more effectively:

  1. a broadened framework to describe and organize the many aspects of financial literacy and how they apply to a range of audiences with varying degrees of financial sophistication; and on the basis of that framework,
  2. a vision for a technology based platform which more effectively connects a) program resources and providers, b) audiences and recipients of those programs, and c) volunteer resources who typically assist in the delivery

These tools are intended for broad, public access, with a specific secondary benefit of enhancing the mobilization of volunteer resources within the state of Wisconsin.

All research findings will be presented by WBF to the general public and institutions such as universities, school districts, public officials and state and federal agencies.