Introducing the Financial Security Ecosystem

A Holistic Model for Scale and Impact

“Ecosystems are dynamic and co-evolving communities of diverse actors who create new value through increasingly productive and sophisticated models of both collaboration and competition.”

Eamonn Kelly. Business Ecosystems Come of Age, April 2015. Deloitte University Press.

A Fully Developed Financial Security Ecosystem

After creating and evaluating three very different service-delivery models over the last 10 years, the Clinic has honed in on a “best practice” model that we are calling a “financial security ecosystem (ecosystem).” Through a decade of building financial security, the Clinic has found that everyone experiences some level of financial insecurity, but different resources are appropriate for different issues and outcomes. With this in mind, the Clinic designed the ecosystem around the mantra, “everyone experiences financial insecurity … but not everyone needs a financial coach.”

This driving mantra manifests itself in the Clinic’s new ecosystem: the bundling together of the Clinic’s best practices and services in collaboration with a partner organization to maximize its ability to build financial security for the working poor and the partner’s ability to achieve its mission.

“Diverse Actors” Innovate

Alongside our new social service partners, we will create a dynamic community that achieves both scale and impact. Our collective strengths, like diversity of perspective and shared passion for mission, are the foundation for our new ability to learn collaboratively, ensuring sustained success.

“Sophisticated Model of Collaboration” Builds Scale

First we will “bake in” financial security strategies into our partners’ programming to build financial security at scale. For example, thousands of job developers, domestic violence advocates, re-entry specialists, and career coaches have already opened bank accounts or prioritized debt for their customers, as these are roadblocks that risked the practitioners’ ability to achieve mission. By building capacity and innovating systemic solutions, the Clinic and its partners are able to build financial security at scale.

Impact and “Increasing Productivity”

Because thousands of practitioners are building financial security, hundreds of thousands of working poor people are simultaneously screened for issues that are better addressed by a financial coach or personal finance attorney. In an ecosystem, the practitioner addresses the issues best correlated to their mission, and those that require additional financial or legal expertise receive heightened scrutiny by a financial coach or personal finance attorney.

This improves the efficiency of all employees and therefore the organization. Financial coaching has demonstrated impact on the debt, credit and savings levels of working poor Americans, those earning on average $23,000 a year, or just above the poverty level for a family of three.

Providing Financial Security-Building Services

This impact, in turn, deepens the value of the partners’ mission. For example, in a partnership with the New York City Department of Small Business Services, the Clinic trained career coaches to provide financial security-building services as part of their workforce development with customers. The study found that customers achieved significantly higher retention and advancement outcomes–27 percent additional income earned and 67 percent additional hours worked–when they also achieved financial security milestones with their career coach.

Whether it’s a practitioner’s increased productivity, or a “faster, better, cheaper” model for ending violence or recidivism, the financial security ecosystem builds financial security at scale, and accelerated outcomes for its partners.

Funding a Financial Security Ecosystem

To learn more, read about the investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to fund a financial security ecosystem in New York City, which is part of a $1 million multi-faceted project that will build financial security for working poor Americans nationwide.