If we better educate and inform consumers, it will be easier for banks to best serve them. That is a premise Louisiana bankers have long embraced.
Since 1957, the Louisiana Bankers Association has dedicated a division of young bankers to financial education and outreach. Today, the Louisiana Bankers Education Council and the nonprofit Louisiana Bankers Education Foundation work together to promote financial literacy throughout our state.
We co-sponsor the Bank-at-School program with our state treasurer, which assists elementary schools with financial literacy initiatives. We sponsor "Simply Banking" study guides designed for high school and middle school students. We provide scholarships to bankers' children who are incoming freshman with majors in a banking related field at an accredited Louisiana college or university.
We are part of Louisiana Jump$tart, a coalition of organizations dedicated to improving financial literacy, which hosts its meetings at the LBA office. We helped pass a state law requiring Free Enterprise curriculum to include instruction in personal finance, effective in the 2004-2005 school year.
It was rewarding in 2013 when Louisiana was one of seven states awarded an "A" by Champlain College's renowned Center for Financial Literacy. Many bankers and banker associations across the country are very supportive and active in promoting financial literacy. Still, we know we – and the entire banking industry – need to do more.
There are few things as empowering as a person having the information they need to make good decisions regarding their personal finances. April is Financial Literacy Month. I urge bankers across the nation to take this opportunity to help their communities become more financially literate. There are resources available in the financial literacy section of our website, www.lba.org, and through local and state organizations that can help them get started.
Financial literacy is one tool we have to help mitigate the damage the financial crisis inflicted upon customers, communities, our industry and the nation's economy. Helping people understand personal finances and empowering them to make better financial decisions ensures a better future.
Robert T. Taylor is chief executive of the Louisiana Bankers Association.