CFPB Report: Navigating the Market – A comparison of spending on financial education and financial marketing

CFPB Report

Navigating the Market

A comparison of spending on financial education and financial marketing

Executive Summary

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the CFPB) looked at the information sources consumers are exposed to when they make financial decisions.

Empowering consumers to make the financial decisions that will help them meet their own life goals is a critical part of the mission of the CFPB. To understand the wide range of information sources consumers could be exposed to in making financial decisions, the CFPB commissioned a study of the size and scope of the financial information field.* The results give an overall indication of the relative amounts spent in the U.S. on financial education and on the marketing of certain types of financial products. Though the results should not be treated as precise measures of spending, we hope the study encourages further research and stimulates discussion on the scope and role of financial education.

In the U.S. economy, billions of dollars are spent on financial industry marketing efforts, about 25 times more than is spent on financial education.

The study found that approximately $670 million is spent annually on providing financial education by federal, state, and local governments, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, charitable foundations, and others. At the same time, the financial services industry spends approximately $17 billion annually marketing consumer financial products and services (not counting marketing of products related to retirement, college loans, and other investments). While the study does not explore the effect of this spending disparity on consumer decisions, it provides a meaningful comparison when we consider consumers’ financial educational needs.

As a nation, we spend about two dollars per person per year on financial education.

The $670 million in spending translates to a little more than $2 per person per year on financial education in the U.S. (Note that this figure should be treated as a general order of magnitude of spending rather than a precise estimate, as this number is derived from a modeling methodology with specific assumptions detailed below). In comparison, the $17 billion in financial services marketing translates to about $54 per person per year.

Read the CFPB report.


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