How Financial Technology Strengthens the Mission of Workforce Organizations

Michelle Saenz | Program Associate | The Financial Clinic

(Originally published in NYATEP’s Workforce BUZZ, October 2, 2017)

Financial technology has changed the way most of us monitor and take control of our personal finances. The impact of financial technology on the financial security field has been such that we at The Financial Clinic have changed the way we do business. In order to meet the needs of our clients, we designed and launched our online financial coaching platform, Change Machine, and needed to research the financial technology landscape heavily to do so. In our research, we found that most financial technologies required a degree of technological access and savvy that a lot of our customers simply did not have.

Change Machine is a resource for coaches who want to meet their customers where they are. It answers questions like, “if my customer has a smartphone, how can they optimize banking technology?” and “what resources can my customer use to optimize banking without a smartphone?”.

Much like our coaches aim to meet their customers where they are, as an organization we’ve sought to meet our partners where they are. For workforce development in particular, practitioners must be armed with the resources to address their customers’ widely varied range of barriers to employment, from how to handle unemployment insurance, to what job seekers need to know about rap sheets, to how to take advantage of banking to support career advancement, and finally, to understanding employment reports.

On a programmatic level, our workforce partners leverage Change Machine to track customer progress, develop financial security knowledge, stay up-to-date on the latest workforce news, and collect data. Parvin Begum, Financial Literacy Manager at Grant Associates Inc:

“It helps me decide on the type of trainings needed for the staff so that they can best assist our customers. For example, if we have a large number of clients interested in our financial literacy services because of credit, I will know to provide more trainings on credit to help serve the needs of our customers…For a client, it can be empowering to see their progress from day one, to see if they feel better about their finances or if they started to save, reduce debt or build their credit. This can all be tracked in Change Machine and given to the client, so it can help both the client and the coach stay focused.”

At the Clinic we believe that workforce development should be customer-led. We are also aware that the field is often metric-driven. Change Machine is a platform that reconciles these processes in a way that ensures career advancement and greater financial security for all.