UBB partnership sparks education, brand awareness

A collaboration between United Bankers’ Bank and the financial literacy software provider Banzai allows community banks to be a gateway for students to learn how to manage finances.  

The partnership, in place since last year, includes more than 40 community banks and is intended to allow schools to use Banzai’s financial literacy teaching platform. The curriculum details real financial dilemmas, from taming a budget and adopting sound spending patterns to maintaining savings goals. Lessons are tailored for three age groups: Ages 8-12 who learn about income, budgeting, borrowing and spending; teenagers ages 13-18 who are instructed on insurance, taxes, paying rent and setting goals; and those 16 and older who are taught how to build a credit score, qualify for a mortgage, avoid identity theft and weigh tradeoffs. 

Banzai professionals reach out to banks, which can then pinpoint a local school they want to sponsor. Banzai then works directly with schools, hosting online software and providing technical support for users and teachers. In return, Tyson Doke, vice president and marketing manager at Bloomington, Minn.-based UBB, noted banks receive brand recognition.  

“These interactive courses provide students with a fun experience similar to a ‘Choose your own adventure meets Oregon Trail,’ but with money,” UBB stated. “Using trial and error, students play these simulations trying to deal with lifelike setbacks, while planning for the future and accounting for all of their spending decisions.” 

Banzai also offers an online financial wellness program featuring the sponsoring bank’s brand. The site includes interactive calculators, educational content for bank customers, online referral sources and other amenities. An artificial-intelligence-driven Banzai coach provides assistance on how to eliminate debt, create a budget, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and undertake other tasks. Sponsoring community banks are given analytics on usage, user demographics, teacher orders and granular digital marketing data. 

The collaboration comes as more schools adopt financial literacy courses. As reported by financial technology company SmartAsset, the number of states requiring that personal finance be included in their standards has substantially grown over the past two decades. Only 21 states included personal finances in K-12 standards in 1998, compared to 45 in 2020.  

Nearly 1,550 adults in six age groups lost $1,634 per adult last year due to a lack of money management knowledge, according to a National Financial Educators Council survey taken between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3. Extrapolating those numbers to the approximately 254 million U.S. adults reveals that financial literacy cost citizens more than $415 billion in 2020 alone, the NFEC found.