Nearly three years after employees at Wisconsin’s credit unions started participating in an investor education project, the latest update revealed an improvement in financial behavior.
In 2009, the Investor Protection Trust partnered with the Wisconsin Credit Union League and others for the Investor Education in Your Workplace program, also titled Real Progress and Pathways to Prosperity. The goal was to recruit credit unions in Wisconsin to enroll their employees in an online investor education program to see whether the education led to knowledge gains and behavior changes.
The Filene Research Institute recently released the most current outcomes. Wisconsin employees’ scores on interest and credit responses rose 3% to 4% following the education modules. Scores for knowledge of investing for retirement rose 11%, 21% for knowledge of stocks and bonds, and 25% for knowledge of investor information available online.
The research also showed that the education corresponded to improvements in financial behavior. Eight percent of participants reported opening an individual retirement account, 6% established a written budget, and 5% drafted a written financial plan and saving for three months of expenses.
The nine-module program covered the following topics: getting started on investing, basics of personal finance, basics of investing, basics of investment strategies, investment risks, basics of retirement planning, investing in mutual funds, working with financial advisors, and saving for college.
Forty-five credit unions in Wisconsin offered the program to their employees either in the fall of 2009 or in the spring of 2010.
Going forward, the researchers said to the extent that credit union employees mirror members, the data supports the idea that remote learning tools like online education can improve financial knowledge and lead to better financial behavior.