Black America’s Financial Wellness: Research Shows Financial Resiliency in Black Men and Women

Black America’s Financial Wellness: Research Shows Financial Resiliency in Black Men and Women

Black Americans make up a disproportionate percentage of lower income groups, yet have notably higher financial well-being scores than the general population

Black America’s Financial Wellness, authored by Timi Joy Jorgensen, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Financial Literacy at The American College of Financial Services, is the latest research-based white paper from The College and The Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality .

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial well-being as “the state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future, and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life.” This research evaluates the main factors impacting financial well-being in the Black community to assess ways the financial services industry can guide Black Americans towards better financial success.

Black Americans face a number of obstacles when it comes to building financial security, and among them is the lack of access to financial resources and services. This stems in large part from less proximity to financial institutions in low-income zip codes, as well as issues of affordability relative to opening bank accounts and managing overdraft fees.

However, despite making up a disproportionate percentage of lower income groups, Black Americans score higher than the overall population (52 to 50) when it comes to financial well-being. This resiliency highlights the opportunities for unprecedented growth – both for Black Americans and the institutions that serve them – if the financial services industry works together with communities, legislators, and educators to improve access and develop more viable financial alternatives for this historically underserved market.​

Access the full white paper here. Additional findings include:

  • More than 1.2 million Black adults lack access to financial services, meaning no banking accounts, no access to credit, unstable income, and zero financial literacy.
  • Over 10% of Black men and 14% of Black women reported the lowest levels of access; only 8% of Black men and 7% of Black women experienced the highest tier of access. By comparison, 30% of White men experienced the highest tier of access, and only 3% of White men reported the lowest tier of access. 
  • Notably, financial stress was not a significant predictor of financial well-being for Black women, compared to the overall consumer market, where financial stress strongly predicted financial well-being.

Access to financial services continues to be a barrier for many underserved communities. It really comes down to practicality – does it make sense to keep a bank account open when you risk a $35 overdraft fee for a $4 charge? No. People are making rational choices to be unbanked or underbanked, often turning to payday loans or check cashing services where the lifetime costs are higher, but the barriers to use and entry are lower,” said Timi Joy Jorgensen, PhD, Assistant Professor and Director of Financial Literacy at The American College of Financial Services.

"Despite having the lowest access to financial services and products, Black communities exhibit the highest levels of financial well-being. Black communities are modeling financial resilience and grit in unprecedented ways. There is so much to learn and share across cultures to improve the financial well-being of all Americans."

Throughout her career, Jorgensen’s research has focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in financial services, as well as on financial well-being and empowerment. She has participated as a speaker, panelist, and contributor on the topic of creating a more inclusive and empowering financial services profession for all.

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ABOUT THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
The American College of Financial Services was founded in 1927 and is the nation’s largest nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has educated one in five financial advisors across the United States and offers two master’s degrees in management and financial services, along with prestigious financial planning designations such as the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®), Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®), Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), and education leading to the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) certification. The College’s faculty represents some of the foremost thought leaders in the financial services profession. Visit TheAmericanCollege.edu and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.