Union Bank in San Francisco has published a children's book as part of its initiative to promote financial literacy.
The bank teamed up with children's authors John and Diane Tuzee to create What a Bank Can Do. With rhyming text and lively illustrations, the book follows Luke and Linda as they learn the importance of saving money, first using their piggy banks and later by opening their own bank accounts.
The book reminds kids of "one thing that's kind of simple and funny: Always save more than you spend and you'll never run out of money."
"This project is about responsible banking, saving more than you spend [especially] after the financial crisis," says Pierre Habis, Union Bank's head of community banking. "We know if you set a discipline around finance education at a young age, it will follow [people] for a lifetime."
The $97 billion-asset Union Bank, a unit of The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, paid for the initial print of the book and has distributed 5,000 copies to schools and youth groups in California, Washington, and Oregon.
The book's release earlier this month was tied to a study that said 76% of kids want to learn more about finance, 83% agree they should save more and 61% wish they had better sources of information about saving. Union Bank surveyed 1,200 kids ages 8 to 18 in June.
"What was enlightening was such a high percentage of them wanted to learn to save," says Habis, citing the survey.
The book is only one part of Union's overall initiative to teach money matters to people of all ages; the bank also supports Operation Hope and Junior Achievement, two groups whose core mission is to promote financial literacy.
Union Bank also sponsors a school-run branch at McLane High School in Fresno, Calif. The fully functioning branch, built inside of a classroom, hires high school students as tellers and even has money in a vault.
"You can do everything that you could at any bank branch," Habis says.
The book's authors have written four other children's books, all designed to educate kids about various subjects, including the weather, boats, grapes, and California's coastline. Apart from teaching children how to save, What a Bank Can Do also aims to educate them about lending and how people use bank loans to attend college, start businesses and buy homes.
The book is branded with the Union Bank logo, but Habis says it is fine with him if other banks want to attach their names to it.
"I hope that another bank will read your article, and [other banks] will support this book," Habis says. "If we could afford it, we would pay for everyone, in every state." He adds that he hopes other banks will "put their name on it, sponsor it, and give it to the youth that are starving for it."